Cucpakes & Conversation with Erin Pritchard, Corps de Ballet, Tulsa Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
Definitely a nice cup of coffee 🙂 On Mondays, I feel like it’s a fresh start to a new week. I always try to give myself a goal for the week. For example, it could be: “Okay, this week I am really going to focus on dancing bigger and using my body to its fullest.” And then I can spend Monday through Friday trying to achieve that goal.
Why ballet ?
Ever since I was a little girl, I haven’t stopped moving. If I wasn’t outside in our treehouse, I was cannonballing into our pool. If I wasn’t rollerblading down the streets of our neighborhood, I was spinning in circles in our living room or performing for my family with my hairbrush as a microphone. My mom is the School Mistress and Principal Teacher of Orlando Ballet School, so my sister and I were in ballet classes at a very young age. I loved the dedication and focus that ballet class provided. Textbook “bunhead”, but I loved every second of it. As I got older, I tried a lot of other activities like competitive roller and ice skating, gymnastics, and swimming, but ballet was the one. I knew from very early on that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What are you looking forward to dancing during 2012 & what are the big challenges likely to be for you ?
This season at Tulsa Ballet is very exciting. I’m really looking forward to George Balanchine’s Four Temperaments. Also, we are rehearsing Wayne McGregor’s ballet Presentient, and he is coming to Tulsa to work with us. There are few rare opportunities that you get as a dancer to work hand-in-hand with a renowned choreographer such as Wayne McGregor, and I am sure it will be an unforgettable experience. Each ballet presents different challenges. The fun part about having such a versatile repertoire is that you learn something new about yourself with each piece that you learn or perform. You’re constantly growing as an artist and constantly challenging yourself.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
My favorite pas de deux in the whole world is in the third act of Onegin. It’s the pas de deux between Onegin and Tatiana, and it is the most heart-wrenching, beautifully choreographed pas de deux. It would be an honor to dance that, no matter who I was partnering with.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
In an outdoor theater in the middle of a thunderstorm. Can you imagine how exciting that would be?
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I usually darn the tips and sew on the ribbons and elastic. Then I step on the boxes to flatten them, wet the box and heel areas to soften the glue, and then stand on pointe and press the heel so the shank hugs the arch area.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
Right now, we’re rehearsing three ballets for a triple bill that we will perform in the middle of September. From Monday until Friday, we rehearse from 9:30-6:15. On Saturdays and Sundays, I love to spend time with my boyfriend and do “homey” things around our house.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?
I always start the day with a protein-packed breakfast and coffee. After work, I think it’s really important to eat a healthy, nutrient-packed dinner to replenish those sore achy muscles from a hard day’s work. I love vegetables and salads with chicken or fish. I love watching the Food Network and trying out new recipes.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Hmm…well my special guest would Ina Garten so that she could help me prepare a wonderful, “how easy is that?” meal for these guests. Ellen Degeneres, Seth MacFarlane, and Chelsea Handler would definitely provide a truly comedic evening, and my parents (they’re famous in my eyes).
What would surprise people about you ?
I was a competitive roller skater. And I’m a natural blonde.
Who inspired you to dance ?
My mom was my biggest inspiration. She taught me about ballet, helped me grow as a dancer, and still to this day supports me with all of her heart.
What is your best piece of advice ?
Be yourself. You were beautifully and wonderfully made, and that uniqueness is a blessing.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I never really think about the performance until I get to the theater and start to put on my makeup. I take warmup class and get ready straight away so that I can go onto the stage and practice before the curtain opens. I think that becoming familiar with the stage before you perform is a very crucial moment, so I try to allow myself at least 10 minutes of practice time before the stage manager calls “places.”
How do you deal with the stress of performing ?
Performing is really more of a thrill than a stress. My favorite moment is when the curtain opens and you feel that gust of cold air from the front of the house. You suddenly realize that all of these people are about to enjoy what you do, and that is such a powerful feeling.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
I think that each role that I have performed has tested me in different ways. The classical pieces test me because of their technicality, and the contemporary pieces test me because of their physicality.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
Definitely something blue and flowy.
What do you look for in a dance partner ?
I think that communication is very important. I love working on different parts of the choreography and figuring out what makes things work. Each partner that I have danced with has taught me something new, and I love that. I feel like ballet is a never-ending learning experience, and especially with partnering, you learn many new things about how you dance and tips/tricks to make dancing together a smooth and seamless experience.
What is your favourite quote ?
Everything happens for a reason.
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?
Smiling comes naturally to me. In terms of ballet, I had to work for a lot of things, but it’s been worth it!
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
“Oh my gosh!!” with my hands covering my mouth.
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
Performing In the Middle Somewhat Elevated last season was an unforgettable experience. I’ve dreamed about doing that ballet ever since I started my professional career. We start the piece in the back corner of the stage and a huge crash starts the music and illuminates the stage. I remember a HUGE smile crossing my face and a burst of excitement. I’ll never forget how awesome that ballet was to perform.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
I won the gold medal at Nationals for competitive roller skating when I was younger.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
Stronger, wiser, and with more ballets added to my resume.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it ?
Ah this moment 🙂 I think that when I retire, I am definitely looking forward to having a family and enjoying other parts of life after ballet. I’ve been taking college classes and am working towards a Bachelors Degree, so finishing school is a priority for me. I would love to try another career and travel to new places around the world.