Lauren Garside (Apprentice) grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she studied with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School for 11 years and danced with the Richmond Ballet. She performed George Balanchine's Valse Fantaisie in London, England as well as roles such as the Snow Queen in Stoner Winslett's The Nutcracker and the Summer Fairy in Malcolm Burn's Cinderella. She has also performed new works by various choreographers such as Ma Cong, Val Caniparolli, Philip Neal, and Jessica Lang. Additionally; Lauren danced with the Texture Contemporary Ballet in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2012. This is Lauren's second season with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet.
A Conversation with Lauren
What is your favorite role to dance and why?
I have two favorite roles to dance. One is "Myrtha" from Marius Petipa's Giselle. I love this role because of the technical physicality that it takes to dance this part with the jumping variations and also the weightless bourrees. I enjoy the immense undertaking of the personality and acting challenge that it requires to captivate and convince the audience. I also love the principal role in George Balanchine's Valse Fantasie. This ballet in general is one of my favorites because of the beauty that it portrays and the essence of joy that I feel when I perform it.
What do you like to do when you are not dancing?
When I am not dancing, I love to cook and host dinner parties with friends. I enjoy experimenting with foods and I would like to study food science when I retire from the stage. I also love to swim and take hikes or nature walks with my family. In my leisure time I love to decorate and study fashion. I also find great joy in being involved in my church in Richmond and serving the community in various ways.
How do you prepare yourself for the physical challenges of rehearsing, performing, and touring?
When I am rehearsing, touring, and performing, I find it very important to stay in shape both physically and mentally to produce my best performance on and off the stage. I always try to get plenty of rest when I am dancing full-time, as well as eat a nutritious and balanced diet. I find it relaxing after a long day of rehearsals to read and wind down so that I am fully charged for the next day.
What is it like to work with Ms. Farrell? Any fun and memorable stories or anecdotes about working with her?
Working with Ms. Farrell is an honor and a joy. I worked with her several years ago for the fall season and it was a very great pleasure. In some companies, the director wants very cookie-cutter dancers that all look the same and dance similarly, but I found that Ms. Farrell wants good dancers with hearts and souls that dance to the best of their ability and do what she is seeking. I have found that there will always be someone with their leg higher than mine, or with better pirouettes, but dancing with Ms. Farrell showed me that I can be the dancer that I am at my optimal level and give that to my audience with confidence. I also learned that she has a wonderful sense of humor alongside her professionalism, which makes the working environment light and enjoyable.
What do you think is the most common myth about being a dancer? What do you wish people knew about what's its really like to be a ballet dancer?
I love to listen to all kinds of music when I warm up. On my iPod right now I have some Christian rock, classical music, pop, alternative, and classic rock. I like to switch up my music choices or just read while I stretch and prepare for class.
What do you think is the most common myth about being a dancer? What do you wish people knew about what it's really like to be a ballet dancer?
I believe one of the biggest myths about being a ballet dancer is that we all are crazy and have eating disorders. That is very false and sadly a prominent stereotype. Dancers are very unique individuals and although it is true in some cases that we can have body image issues that lead to eating disorders, most dancers are intelligent and know that we need fuel to be athletes. I also find it humorous that people judge dancers based on movies like "Black Swan" in which we are viewed as crazy when we study certain roles. I find it very important and enjoyable to analyze the role that you are dancing in a healthy mind-set in order to perform the best quality of that part so that your audience can enjoy it as much as you do. However, I have never known a case where analyzing a role is taken to the extreme of having nightmares or harming oneself or another!
Do you feel an affinity for any particular choreographer?
One of my most enjoyed choreographers would be Ma Cong. He is a native of China and performed professionally in Tulsa Ballet for many years before retiring to focus on choreography. His works that I have seen and performed have always been very beautiful and they show off each dancer's potential, passion, and perfect femininity or masculinity gracefully. He is a joy to work with as a person and artist.
What is the biggest reward in your career?
The biggest reward in my career has been to hear the responses that audience members have said to me after performances. It is such a pleasure to know that what I do onstage touches one or many people sitting in the theatre and that they can feel and experience the joy and beauty that I live for onstage. There is nothing like being able to feel the audience holding their breath in captivation.