Cupcakes & Conversation with Sara Mearns, Principal, New York City Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
Well, Tuesday is like our Monday; Monday is a dark day for us. But at 8am on Tuesday, I am still dreaming! I am a get up at the last minute and get out of the house fast kind of gal.
What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?
I am involved in three out of seven new ballets going this spring season, that is really exciting! Also Mozartiana and Barber Violin Concerto are going this season.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
I feel like that dream has already come true. I performed Swan Lake with Jared Angle last season on the New York City Ballet stage. It was the highlight of my career thus far.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
I heard it’s like a dream to dance outside in Athens. Outside theaters are always fun! Performing in Paris was amazing, we performed both at the Bastille and the Opera Garnier.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I recently started pulling out half the shank because it gives me more support in the correct place when I am on pointe. Some girls get the shoemakers to do it but I like to do it myself! I also cut the fabric off the tips of the shoe so it’s not as slippery.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
Strangely enough, I don’t have a daily routine. I try to get in some kind of therapy, whether it be my chiropractor or physical therapy, and then I either go to the gym or Pilates, and of course class, and then whatever rehearsals I have. But every day is different! It’s hard to plan in our line of work.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Makarova(my idol), Johnny Depp (I mean, who wouldn’t want that beautiful man across the table from you!), Paula Dean (she is just too funny and her food is sinful) Ellen DeGeneres (freakin hilarious and real!), Oprah (yes, I am obsessed) and Rafael Nadal (one of the most hardworking athletes I have ever seen).
What would surprise people about you ?
I am really hard on myself in rehearsals. I don’t take compliments very well.
Who inspired you to dance ?
Well, when I was little, I didn’t really have someone that inspired me. But now I would have to say the people I work with every day. The fact that I get to dance with Wendy Whelan; enough said.
What is your best piece of advice ?
Don’t lose your inspiration for this art form. It is so beautiful and sometimes it can be masked with drama and competition but step back and remember why you love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I guess I don’t really have a certain routine that I go through. I may have a snack, not a meal. I like to sew my shoes for the show before I start getting ready, it calms me and I think about the night to come. Physical therapy might be in store as well!
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
I would have to say Odette/Odile (from Swan Lake). It tests your ability to completely let yourself go and lose yourself in the moment. Obviously technically it is very challenging and then it has the acting component on top of that. I get very emotional after it is all done, realizing that I gave my soul to the stage and have nothing left.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
I don’t think designing costumes is in my future. I love being a part of the creative process but I will leave the designing to the professionals!
What do you look for in a dance partner ?
The ability to let go and have fun! Also when we are out on stage, that he is really there with me, when I look into his eyes, no one exists. Then it translates to the audience.
What is your favourite quote ?
I have two for you…
“If better is possible, good is not enough”
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?
A step up turn… “lame ducks” are pretty natural to me.
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
Wow, see that’s a hard one. I have a lot of memorable performances, but I don’t want to put the name “best” on any of those. I’m very critical of myself but I will never forget some performances and usually it’s because of the person I was dancing with and the ballet I was performing. To name a few…Swan Lake, Mozartiana, Barber Violin Concerto and Davidsbündlertänze.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
I make bangin chocolate chip cookies!
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
Honestly, I can’t think that far ahead…it is so unpredictable and that’s what I love about what I do…I never thought I would dancing and performing the ballets I get to today, so I am just thankful to be able to do what I love every day. I’m sure it will be exciting wherever, or whatever I am doing a year from now!