Today is a dream come true with a bittersweet twist. Today I will fulfil a dream that has its roots in a time when my interest in ballet consisted only of a select few classical ballets. Before I saw the ballet “In The Middle Somewhat Elevated” I had little desire to dance anything other than a handful of classics. It was "In The Middle,” as we refer to it, that changed forever my perspective on ballet and dance as a whole. In 1999 I joined The Pacific Northwest Ballet looking to reinvigorate my love of dance after a disappointing start to my career in New York City. I learned that we would be dancing this already legendary ballet that season and it was just what I needed. The ballet would change me agin, not because of the choreography, but because I met a man who changed the way I felt about how to work. That man was there to stage the ballet and his name was Glen Tuggle. We were all very tuned into to what he was saying and what he wanted not only because we all really wanted to dance the ballet but because he had a way of working that light up the room and encouraged us all to push further and go harder simply because we were having fun. We loved what we were doing and he encouraged us to laugh and enjoy working our selves to death. “In The Middle” is a very difficult ballet. You have to be in shape or you will collapse in the middle of the stage and pass out! We were killing our selves and as soar as we were at the end of the day we couldn’t wait to get back into the studio and do it again. Glen wanted us to have fun and he gave us the confidence to do it well but also to do it our way. After this experience I began to open my eyes and from that point on I was known as dancer who never said no to trying something unusual. I danced ballets suspended from ropes. I danced ballets in the dark. I even did a pas de deux with a car! I went on to work with Glen several more times and we always had a great time woking our selves to the bone along side his witty but crass sense of humour. After joining The Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam Glen came to stage “Middle” and again the room was on fire with dancers pouring their hearts out and loving every second of it. It was in Amsterdam where my career seemed to come to an end as I was leaving the Dutch National Ballet with an ankle surgery and an uncertain future. I thought I wanted to continue dancing but at almost 40 I didn’t know how or if I could “climb the mountain again” and get back into shape. I called Glen and as always he had a way of lifting my spirits. I thought to my self at that time, thinking that it wasn’t possible, but if I could do any ballet just one more time what would it be? It didn’t take more more than a second to think, “Middle!” I was teaching in Mexico a year later when I had a conversation with my old colleague from Seattle, Patricia Barker, who is now directing The Royal New Zealand Ballet, and she asked me if I would be interested in coming to Wellington to dance “Middle.” I almost exploded with joy before I almost had a panic attack. I first thought YES, and then suddenly wondered if I could still do it! I never back down from a challenge so I began to climb the mountain and before I knew it I was on a plane to New Zealand. Getting my self back into form for such a difficult ballet hasn’t been easy but since arriving here I have been surrounded by a group of dancers and staff that could not be more welcoming. These dancers are exceptional and set a very high standard. They also have open minds and a will to excel and they embrace outsiders as if they are one of their own. It has been a real honour to be here and to work with such a wonderful group of artists who are also wonderful people. The stager, Thierry Guiderdoni, has brought that same wonderful energy to the studio that Glen brought and the dancers have responded to his critiques and encouragement with a sense of purpose and joy. Ive really enjoyed this experience working with Thierry, Patricia, my good friend Nadia Yanowsky and the dancers and staff of RNZB and I cannot begin to thank everybody enough for this dream come true. Sadly this dream is bittersweet as just a few days ago I learned that my dear friend Glen has passed away. I had just sent him an email telling him that I am dancing “Middle” again and how much I missed him. I miss you Glen but I know you are in a better place. I will always remember the joy and love of dance that you helped me find on so many occasions. I will be dedicating these performances of “In The Middle Somewhat Elevated” to your memory. This one is for you buddy!
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