Cupcakes & Conversation with Aria Alekzander, Corps de Ballet, Houston Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
It sounds cheesy, but I try and set aside some time to myself each morning to be grateful. Listening to music while I get ready and thinking of a few things in my life that I’m thankful for puts me on the right foot, and COFFEE.
What are you looking forward to dancing during 2012 & what are the big challenges likely to be for you?
There are a lot of ballets I haven’t done yet which is always exciting and we start with Madame Butterfly, the music and choreography are absolutely beautiful. La Bayadère is definitely going to be the most challenging. That ballet is extremely demanding on all the girls in the company, but I love a challenge.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?
A waltz with Fred Astaire.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre)…where would you dance?
Grand Canyon at sunset.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
Honestly, I wear Gaynor Mindens and they come exactly the way I like to wear them so I don’t have to do anything.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
I wake up in the morning either to my alarm or my dog, have breakfast and get ready for the day. I typically go home for lunch, then I go back to work for three more hours. After work I either hang out with friends, read a book, watch a movie, or paint.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
Jesus, Bill Cosby, Wes Anderson, Abraham Lincoln, Johnny Depp, and Grace Kelly.
What would surprise people about you?
I think corny “dad jokes” are absolutely hilarious and that I love to play poker.
Who inspired you to dance?
I grew up in a ballet studio so it was everywhere. When I was nine I saw Tina LeBlanc perform Giselle. Her portrayal of the role and her flawless technique ignited a passion in me that I didn’t know was possible. I had to be a part of that magic one day.
What is your best piece of advice?
Don’t let temporary emotions and situations determine your everything and to live passionately in the pursuit of what your heart knows and desires.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
Typically I don’t do anything terribly exciting. When I get to the theatre I’m pretty quick at putting on my make-up. I like to review counts and things like that before curtain and obviously warm-up.
How do you deal with the stress of performing?
I always try and think about why I’m doing this. Is it to be perfect and not fall down or mess up steps? No. It’s to enjoy myself and share my soul and passion with the audience to hopefully inspire something in them. When I look at it like that, I know stress is only going to get in the way.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
I think any competition or gala type performance. Typically in those you don’t get the opportunity to create a relationship with the audience, you’re kind of shot out of a cannon and those make me the most nervous.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
It would depend on the piece but something simple. When the designer’s costume speaks louder than the dancer, both parties have failed.
What do you look for in a dance partner?
Strength and a positive attitude.
What is your favourite quote?
To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
A phrase I use far too often is…?
“You know what I mean?”
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?
I honestly can’t think of one moment in particular. I will say that I do my best on stage when I’m present in the moment and not thinking ahead of myself or in the past. Simply being free in the moment, I think that’s when I’m at my best and most honest.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?
Hmmm…I guess it depends on how specific you’re being with the word “skill”. I really enjoy painting and drawing, but I wouldn’t be bold enough to consider it a skill.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
Wherever I’m happiest and given the most opportunities.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?
I guess I’m a hippie because I really haven’t planned it. I never thought I’d end up in Texas and never anticipated any of the amazing journeys that came along with it so I kind of look to the future with a positive attitude and keep my mind open to all things possible. My hippie heart set aside, I’m going to college part time, and taking acting lessons when I can. I LOVE acting and I think education should never end in my life. It’s important to me that I constantly grow in multiple areas of my life. It’s not exactly a plan, but it’s a preparation for a future.