Boston Ballet Company head to London

Boston Ballet Company head to London

Ballet News World Exclusive illustration by Noemi Manalang
Ballet News World Exclusive illustration by Noemi Manalang

As Boston Ballet head into town for a hotly anticipated week of performances, here’s a round-up of my interviews with their dancers across the ranks, for Ballet News.

Cupcakes & Conversation with Erica Cornejo, Principal, Boston Ballet

Cupcakes & Conversation with John Lam, Soloist, Boston Ballet

Cupcakes & Conversation with Sylvia Deaton, Corps de Ballet, Boston Ballet

New Year Cupcakes & Conversation with Rachel Cossar, Corps de Ballet, Boston Ballet

Cupcakes & Conversation with James Whiteside, Principal, Boston Ballet

Cupcakes & conversation with Jeffrey Cirio, Second Soloist, Boston Ballet

Cupcakes & Conversation with Krista Ettlinger, Corps de ballet, Boston Ballet

Cupcakes & Conversation with Lia Cirio, Soloist, Boston Ballet

Cupcakes & Conversation with Krista Ettlinger, Corps de ballet, Boston Ballet


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Cupcakes & Conversation with Krista Ettlinger, Corps de ballet,  Boston Ballet


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Krista Ettlinger by Rosalie O’Connor

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?

A fun-filled weekend, excitement for all the things I want to accomplish in the upcoming week, and coffee!

Why ballet ?

It’s the ultimate challenge. I’m a perfectionist, and ballet is so challenging physically and mentally, that there is always something to work toward.

What are you looking forward to dancing in the new season ?

I’m excited that the repertoire for Boston Ballet’s season this year is so varied: everything from La Bayadere to Balanchine’s Midsummer Night’s Dream to Elo, Kylian, and Forsythe. I love being exposed to so many different styles of movement; there is so much that I still have to learn.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?

I would love to dance the role of Giselle someday, but there are so many talented dancers out there, I can’t pick just one!

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?

In a very beautiful outdoor setting. I love when beauty in nature inspires and enhances beautiful performances on stage.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?

I usually just pull up part of the shank and bend it a bit and step on the box so it flattens to my foot. I also scratch up the satin so I don’t slip.

What is your daily routine at the moment ?

Most days I wake up around 8, have breakfast and coffee, pack lunch and snacks for work; then at the ballet, I warm up in the Pilates room listening to my iPod (usually Ray LaMontaigne or something else chilled), rehearse until 6:30, and then after a shower and dinner, I hang out with friends or read or watch tv.


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Misa Kuranaga and Krista Ettlinger in Giselle. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?

The Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Balanchine, and Jiri Kylian. I would hope that Barack Obama brings his wife Michelle as his +1, I would love to chat with her too.

What would surprise people about you ?

That I am kind of a nerd. I’ve taken a few classes at the Harvard Extension School, and I really enjoy reading, studying, and writing papers.

Who inspired you to dance ?

Well, it’s a combination of one of my first ballet teachers and Billy Joel. One Saturday in ballet class, my teacher put on an instrumental version of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and had us do a center combination to that. I liked that song a lot from listening to it at home with my mom, so I tried to show my teacher that I liked the song by how I danced to it. And then it just clicked for me – I could express myself through movement.

What is your best piece of advice ?

To have confidence in yourself. I tell myself this every day.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?

I make sure that I eat a meal a couple hours before the show so I have time to digest and then take a little 10 or 15 minute nap. Then, while I do my hair and make-up, I listen to music in the dressing room, and then warm-up by giving myself barre, and go through all of the choreography in my head, just to be sure.

Which role has tested you the most & how ?

Myrtha in Maina Gielgud’s Giselle for Boston Ballet. This role tested me technically and artistically because it demands strong technique and stamina, and also demands the ability to become a character very different from myself. It challenged me to become an artist, to find the motivations and emotions to become Myrtha, the man-slaughtering, angry Queen of the Wilis, and to thread her character and story into each of my steps and movements. With Maina’s coaching, this was a very demanding, yet inspiring, process.

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?

A beautiful, simple classical tutu. But probably in some crazy bright color, like teal or lime green.

What do you look for in a dance partner ?

Someone who works hard and who is flexible enough to create a partnership with give-and-take. 

What is your favourite quote ?

“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?

Not a signature step, but jumping comes pretty naturally to me.

A phrase I use far too often is … ?


What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?

My best onstage moment has also been my worst. It was my premiere performance as Myrtha in Boston Ballet’s Giselle that I mentioned earlier. In the opening solo I twisted my ankle landing a jump and broke the calcaneus bone in my foot. I continued dancing on in it and finished the performance – without anyone realizing what had happened. It taught me that I can really trust myself onstage.

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?

It wouldn’t be a secret if I told you 😉

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?

I just want to be dancing and continuing to grow as an artist by learning as much as I can from different choreographers and dancers.