Katie Gibson (Corps de Ballet) is a native of Boston, Massachusetts and began her training at Ballet Workshop of New England under the instruction of Jacqueline Cronsberg. Katie continued her training at the San Francisco Ballet School where she had the opportunity to perform with San Francisco Ballet. Katie joined Oregon Ballet Theatre under the direction of Christopher Stowell in 2003 and joined Miami City Ballet under the direction of Edward Villella from 2005-2010. Katie now resides in London where she works with choreographer Antonia Franceschi and also performs with Ballet NY. She is an alumna of Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell. Katie joined The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2011.
A Conversation with Katie Gibson
What is your favorite role to dance and why?
It is difficult to distinguish a favorite role or even ballet. I have been lucky to dance many great ballets throughout my career and each possesses a unique experience. Ultimately, when rehearsing and performing a ballet, I try to embrace the essence and the challenge. Learning a new ballet is exciting as there is the element of the unknown, but I also enjoy revisiting ballets that I have danced before because there is always something new to discover.
What do you like to do when you are not dancing?
I practice yoga frequently. Originally, I started yoga to supplement my ballet training, but I have learned that it is just as much an exercise for the body as the mind. I am also finishing my college degree and enjoying expanding my interests.
How do you prepare yourself for the physical challenges of rehearsing, performing, touring?
As a ballet dancer I have to prepare myself physically, but also mentally. In order to perform in both rehearsal and on stage the whole self must be present. I also think it is very important to know how to adapt. Whether it is in the studio, the stage or a stage in a foreign country there is always an element that will be different. It can be something like the floor being slippery, the conductor setting a tempo too fast or trying to function on no sleep due to jet lag. Regardless, it is a dancer's responsibility to overcome the elements and ultimately perform.
What is it like to work with Ms. Farrell? Any fun and memorable stories or anecdotes about working with her?
Working with Ms. Farrell has been an inspiration. She is a director, but she is also a teacher. She has not only helped to improve my physical dancing, but she has changed my approach to dancing and performing. Through her guidance I am constantly discovering new nuances of a ballet, a technical step or even something that you think is completely unrelated to ballet. She challenges you physically and mentally, but I believe with the intention to help you achieve growth.
What music do you like to listen to when you warm-up?
The music I listen to, if any, is influenced by what I have to dance and my state on the particular day; it will be something to get me focused and in the right mind set. The music can range from Baroque and Classical to Contemporary. However, it is becoming more common that I do not listen to any music before a performance.
What do you think is the most common myth about being a ballet dancer? What do you wish people knew about what it's really like to be a ballet dancer?
I have often been told that dancers live in a "bubble" and there is some truth to this as being a ballet dancer is extremely demanding and it requires much dedication. In order to perform at high-levels dancers often adopt a particular lifestyle, which may appear distant from society. Dancers, however, are exposed to many aspects of life through the art form and enjoy obtaining knowledge. Whether it be about a particular musical score or current political affairs, I find dancers to be curious, interested people. They are often the smartest people I know.
Do you feel an affinity for any particular choreographer?
I definitely feel an affinity towards George Balanchine's choreography. Even though some of his ballets are over fifty years old, they are still relevant and innovative. When dancing a Balanchine ballet it is as if everything is in harmony. Each dancer, each movement, each musical note serves a purpose and relates to one another. I have never finished dancing a Balanchine ballet and felt unsatisfied.
What is the biggest reward in your career?
Each time I step on stage is a reward as it is an opportunity that will eventually come to an end