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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Interview: Shannon Ricks

I had the pleasure of working with Shannon Ricks this past week while I was in Peoria. I was struck pretty much instantly by her ability to negotiate the mood of our partnership and keep things in perspective. As dancers we all approach our work differently, and while in the end it’s for the same love, the means of our arrival there is hardly ever as similar. In growing up with dance we all develop our own unique process. And while our own styles of work are so unconsciously familiar there is nothing like partnering with another person to bring one’s own idiosyncrasies to light.

There is an elusive balance between work and fun that we all continuously look to find. And while it may never be obtainable, I was surprised when I met Shannon because it seemed, at least to me, that she had honed in on this duality of dance. Not only as a vehicle of her commitment to professionalism, but to the continued joy she so obviously draws from dancing.

Her perspective seemed unique and I thought she’d have interesting thoughts to share, ruminations on the process that dance has been for her. I asked for an interview and below you’ll find snippets from her responses. I didn’t want to clog up the main page with too much wordage, I strongly recommend following the link for the full text.

...There is so much growth that happens between the first brain storming session and the actual performances because even though the choreographer has a specific idea, well, at least my artistic directors are not so much concerned with us getting their steps perfectly as us conveying the emotion that they want. So they work with us to make their movement fit with us and be natural...

...I also just kind of got sick of the pain from pointe shoes. I feel like it compromises my dancing when I have a teeny little blister that my whole body can sometimes unconsciously react to. You know, you hold tensions in your body when you have pain in your feet...

...I kind of get angry when people say you cant make it out of college, more and more companies these days are looking for dancers out of college. All the jobs I have had I have gotten because I do have a degree. Sometimes in an audition that makes the difference between two similarly talented dancers...

...I don’t believe in sticking with a place if it’s not what’s right for me. I’ve found a company that I really love, that I want to build up to help turn it into something that is great someday. And the fact that I am happy with them is more important to me...

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