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Rebecca King, ballerina at the Miami City Ballet

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July 4th. 2011 : Meeting Rebecca King, dancer and blogger at the Miami City Ballet

Rebecca King is a Corps dancer at the
Miami City Ballet since 2008. In addition to her choreographic activities, she devotes much energy - like the company she belongs to - to social networking on the Web. Now, she tells us a little more about Miami City Ballet and the Paris tour scheduled on this summer 2011.

First could you tell us how you joined the Miami City Ballet?

I was born and raised in the East Bay of Northern California, near San Francisco. As a child ballet was my main extra circular activity. I was completely enamored with the art form, and that love has never diminished.  I trained at 
Contra Costa Ballet in Walnut Creek, CA under the direction of former San Francisco Ballet School Director Richard Cammack, former ABT and SFB dancer Zola Dishong.  I attended the Rock School in Philadelphia for my last year of high school, before moving to Miami to attend the Miami City Ballet School in 2006.  I joined the Miami City Ballet as a Company Apprentice for the 2007-2008 season, and was promoted to Corps De Ballet in 2008.

For most of us, Miami is more linked to beaches and palmtrees than to classical ballet. How is ballet popular there? How does a classical dancer deal with this context?

Miami does have a very specific reputation ; beaches, swim suits, tropical weather, and an active night life. But locals know that there is also a cultural scene in South Florida. Though the arts may not be as prominent as a city like New York, we are still active in the community. For the past few years the company has been focusing their efforts on reaching out to younger audiences. By inviting young professionals to the ballet, the company hopes to make going to the ballet on a Friday night, the "trendy" thing to do.

What does the company mean on the American ballet scene, especially when compared with ABT, NYCB or SFB?  

Miami City Ballet is very much a Balanchine company.  Many of the company members were trained in the Balanchine technique and have a passion for his choreography.

How important is Edward Villela in the rehearsing process?

I would say that we have a very specific style of dancing, defined by our director, Edward Villella. Mr. Villella teaches company class every morning and instills very specific concepts into our dancing. The most important concept is “timing”. Balanchine's choreography is famous for being very musical, and Mr. Villella insists that we stay true to his vision. He encourages us to move quickly, to define each movement in a sharp and precise way. Secondly, this company loves to dance big. By creating big movements that carried dancers across the floor, Balanchine understood that their dancing would inherit a very specific quality.

In your opinion, what does the company bring to Balanchine or Robbins' choreography?

To me, the most important quality that Miami City Ballet brings to these world famous ballets, is our personality.We have dozens of huge personalities in this company, which I find always comes across on stage. There is a specific energy that appears onstage during performances that is extremely infectious. I have no doubt that this energy and personality will be more present than ever in Paris.

It seems there are a lof Cubans in the company (or at least Latin dancers), do you think it affects in a way the style of the company?

We do have a lot of Latin dancers in the company. I feel that they bring something very specific to the company. They do have a different style than the Balanchine trained dancers, but they are very quick to learn and adapt to the technique that we work on in Miami. These different kinds of dancers coming together is another thing that makes this company special.

Is this the first time you and / or the company are coming to France and Europe? How do you prepare such a big tour?

This wil be my first time traveling abroad with the company. The last time the company toured over-seas was in 2000 when they toured to Italy. The number of performances that we will be presenting during our time in Paris is un-precidented for this company. Three weeks, 17 performances, and 14 ballets. All the works that we are bringing to the Châtelet stage are ones that we are either known for, or are staples in our repertoire. It certainly was a challenge to put all of these works together, but it will be well worth it. We are getting the opportunity to work on over a dozen wonderful ballets at one time ; often we only work on three ballets at once while preparing for performances here in Miami. This will be a great experience for us.    

square dance
Square dance (chor. George Balanchine)

What are you looking forward to mostly?

I am looking forward to so many things in this tour. First and foremost, I am so looking forward to being a part of this monumental moment in this company's history. I could not think of a better group of people to be sharing this experience with. I have never been to Paris before, so I am really looking forward to getting to explore the city.  Since we will be there for an extended period of time, I feel like we will get to experience Paris as if we lived there 

The repertoire for this tour is mainly focused on American choreographers. What is your favorite ballet? Which one would you recommend to a newcomer?

Among the fourteen ballets we are bringing to Paris, I have a few favorites. My favorite ballet that I am performing in, would have to be Balanchine's Ballet Imperial. I simply love the choreography and how much dancing the corps de ballet does. I have had the opportunity to dance this ballet a few years ago with the company, and I feel as if I could never get tired of it. However, I have to say that my favorite Balanchine ballet to date, would have to be Symphony in Three Movements. Stravinsky composed the score, and Balanchine conceived the most perfect steps to accompany the notes. This ballet definitely holds a special place in my heart. Not to be missed is Balanchine's Square Dance. The entire cast is spectacular. In fact, we filmed this work for a television special here in the United States, by request of the Balanchine Foundation. If you are looking for something more contemporary, you cannot afford to miss seeing this company perform Twyla Tharp's In The Upper Room. I have seen this ballet more times than I can count, and each time I get chills.  It is exceptionally exciting and full of exuberant energy.

Which dancers and choreographers do you particularly admire?

I admire so many dancers in this company.  They all work very hard, with tremendous dedication.  We have a spectacular roster that is sure to wow audiences in Paris. I really don't have a specific dancer that I admire. The reason that I answered with my admiration of this company's dancers is because they are the group I enjoy the most. Knowing these people on a personal level allows me to look up to them just that much more. The choreographer I most admire is, of course, Balanchine.  As I become more and more familiar with his works, I continue to be blown away by his genius.  I often think that the audience is not able to appreciate him in his full glory without knowing the ballets as intimately as we do. His choreography seems so natural that you cannot imagine doing any other step to the ballet's score.

symphonie en trois mouvements
Symphony in Three Movements (chor. George Balanchine)

Why are you so involved in social media?

I have become really involved in social media recently. About a year ago I launched a blog, 
Tendus Under A Palm Tree and have found social media to be the best way to get the word out.  I am more amazed with it every day as I connect with lovers of ballet, ballet students, other professional dancers, and other bloggers. Most recently, I have been enjoying being able to connect with people in Paris who are looking forward to seeing our company on tour.  I am also thrilled to be able to use Twitter to update fans of Miami City Ballet back in the states throughout our tour.

What are you planning to do during your leisure time in Paris?

A lot of my free time in Paris will be spent blogging.  I will be working on my blog as well as sending posts back to a local Miami arts blog (  I will also be putting together footage for a video blog for Pointe Magazine (  As far as site seeing goes, I do not have any definite plans.  I am going to take it day by day and experience the city as a local.  A lot of the dancers have been to Paris before and know of great spots to visit.  I am just hoping to see as much of the City of Lights as I can in three weeks. 

Rebecca King - Propos recueillis par B. Jarrasse

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rebecca king

Interviewed on July 4th. 2011 - Rebecca King © 2011, Dansomanie
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