Hi everyone, Intern, Minako here again! Today’s spotlight will be on the talented dancers, Melanie Verna and Blake Seidel.
Minako: When did you start dancing?
Blake: I only started dancing 5 years ago in college, I was 20.
Melanie: I’ve been dancing since I was 5 1/2. It’s been a long time.
Minako: Blake, since you’ve been dancing a short time, how do you improve yourself?
Blake: I work really hard and spend a lot of time in the studio. Working on things outside of the rehearsal process is important. I feel like I can make up by working twice as hard everyone else.
Minako: Do you think Polaris gives you more artistic freedom than other companies you’ve worked with?
Melanie: Yes, I would add that there’s also an aspect of cooperation that I didn’t have before. There’s a lot of communication between the dancers and the directors; directors have a lot of input, but the dancers have freedom to express themselves too. In the past, I didn’t have the freedom to express my own ideas to my fellow comrades as easily as I do here. The dancers have a lot of artistic license, which is super nice.
Blake: In the past, I danced for a younger contemporary ballet company, which wasn’t very strict. The directors were younger, and it was also very collaborative in the communication sense.
Minako: What is the most difficult part of dancing?
Blake: I would say the hardest thing about being a dancer is trying to make it. It’s finding a balance between what you feel satisfied with. We all have to be able to pay the bills, and I try to find a place where I can both dance and feel fulfilled. There are so many things that that go into it.
Melanie: I definitely feel the same way. I have the same struggles. In addition to having three jobs I try to stay in good shape and try not to be too exhausted while making a living. I always have to come back to dance to feel fulfilled. It’s a really tough balance.
Minako: Compared to the 9 to 5 lifestyle, do you think this career is very different?
Blake: Yes, because any other person can just go to work, get paid, come home, then they have the option to do a lot of other things. They have set hours, they have set assignments. We take everything home with us. We have to learn and remember all the phrases for the next day. Sometimes I work another job, so on top of rehearsals, with an additional set of hours, I end up working 14 – 15 hour days.
Melanie: Yes, basically we have many different things going on in order to be able to support our art, which if it means enough to you, is worth it. But It is difficult.
Minako: What is your goal in dancing?
Melanie: Because I worked full-time as a dancer and supplemented my income with teaching, it’s become all-consuming. I think at this point my goal is to dance for myself, since for a long time I was trying to do what everybody else was: get the training, get the contract out of high school, move to New York and be a ballet dancer. It was always for my career path, or for my director, to please people, or network with the right donors so we could get funding. At this point, because of the way the company is structured right now, and how you kind of have to support yourself, I want to do it for me. Not for anyone else. People respond really well to it here too.
Minako’s Toughts: Melanie and Blake come from different backgrounds, but they do really well dancing collaboratively at Polaris. I think the open-minded approach that Polaris takes works well for the dancers. They are also able to express different views and opinions, and it works well for them. I really enjoyed interviewing Melanie and Blake. Thank you both!
Next I’ll be interviewing Polaris Dance Company Member, Brynn. See you soon!