‣ That is a lot of work!
It really was way too much as I was working almost seventy hours a week. My body couldn’t handle it and my previous ankle injury was really making dancing too painful. I finally had surgery on my ankle and went back to just playing for classes. A few other opportunities opened up for me after my dancing days were over and I was able to start teaching ballet, train new accompanists, and also was the ballet mistress at Princeton Ballet School.
‣ Still sounds like a lot of work…Do you ever sleep?
I was always looking for new opportunities at this point and reached out to Pennsylvania Ballet when I heard they were opening a new school to see if they needed an accompanist…
‣ I guess not!
They hired me on the spot and offered me classes playing for both the school and the company. This was so much fun for me as I loved the change of scenery and also the chance to watch the company dancers each week. Also through friends I was able to start playing company class at ABT. This really was a dream come true. I remember getting lost in the basement at The Met and having to ask James Whiteside to help me find my way out!
‣ You do realize that you went from playing for little children to stars of one of the most prestigious companies in the world over the span of a couple of decades, right? I feel like we need to take a moment here to thank your first ballet teacher for “roping in” your Mom that day.
I’m guessing the story doesn’t end here…
A few years into my time at Pennsylvania Ballet they needed a rehearsal pianist mid season to fill in immediately. I stepped in and then was offered the job full time for the following season. It was a job I truthfully never wanted but I felt like it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, plus I loved working with Angel Corella, the current Artistic Director, and the other Ballet Masters there.
I spent the 2018-2019 season as a full time rehearsal accompanist with Pennsylvania Ballet but decided not to continue on at the end of the season. I’ve always preferred playing for class and working with students, it’s where I feel my talents are put to the best use and it’s fun! My year as a rehearsal pianist taught me so much but it also highlighted the reasons I didn’t want the job in the first place.
Playing piano reductions of the orchestra scores is extremely difficult so I was putting countless hours into learning the music on top of an already jam packed rehearsal schedule. The stresses of that plus the high pressure environment of the studio wasn’t good for my mental health and I really missed being involved with the students. It was scary leaving a steady job and stepping out into the unknown but looking back I’m so glad I made that choice!
‣ You are clearly a survivor, though, so surely you would find something else to fulfill your artistic tendencies.
My parents had retired down to Western North Carolina so I decided to spend some time there to see if I could decide what to do with my life. I ended up finding a job as a vocal accompanist at a college here almost immediately and also started teaching ballet at a few local schools. It was during this time that I was teaching without a pianist for the first time so started recording some music for myself to use while I was teaching.
Once the pandemic started in March I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands as all my jobs were shut down for the rest of the semester. I decided to continue working on the recordings I had started and work towards getting them distributed. My first album came out in April of 2019 and it’s been non-stop ever since! I’ve had so much fun reconnecting with old friends in the ballet world who’ve been using my music and it’s been a great way to feel a part of everything while working through this challenging year! I am loving the challenge of finding ways to incorporate both the newer pop hits and classical music into my albums and I wake up inspired every day to keep creating new music.