Audra Johnson (Corps de Ballet) began her training under the direction of Christine Taylor and Luba Guylaeva, and continued her studies at The New Jersey Ballet School, The Harid Conservatory, and Atlanta Ballet Center for Dance Education. She has danced with American Repertory Ballet and The Washington Ballet. She has been featured in Twyla Tharp's Eight Jelly Rolls, Octect, and Nine Sinatra Songs and in new works by Kirk Peterson, Susan Shields, Graham Lustig, Laurie Stallings, and Melissa Barak. Her Balanchine repertoire includes Tempo di la Valse, Episodes, Serenade, Concerto Barocco, and Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fee. Audra joined The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2011.
A Conversation with Audra
What is your favorite role to dance and why?
I have a few favorites. George Balanchine's Serenade is truly amazing to dance. I have had the opportunity to dance the Russian soloist and corp in this ballet. Each role was extremely rewarding and fun. I also love Concerto Barocco. There is something special about dancing together with a group of ladies, completely unified and connected to such brilliant choreography and music. I have also enjoyed several works by Twyla Tharp.
What do you like to do when you are not dancing?
I love family walks with my husband and son. I also enjoy refinishing furniture and home decorating.
How do you prepare yourself for the physical challenges of rehearsing, performing, and touring?
I find that taking good care of my body is extremely helpful. I try to eat good foods, stretch regularly and be wise with how I work and how much to push.
What is it like to work with Ms. Farrell? Any fun and memorable stories or anecdotes about working with her?
Ms. Farrell is an inspiration. She hears the music in a way that always intrigues me and it's amazing. I find myself being able to move quicker and do things I didn't think were possible. It's always rewarding and a pleasure working with her. She inspires me to push myself to find new depths in my dancing.
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?
Dancers are hard workers and it goes beyond just our dancing. It carries into every day life. I know so many dancers who have had wonderful careers while going to school at the same time. Most of them have successful second careers. We have this drive in us to work hard and perfect whatever we are doing.
What is the biggest reward in your career?
I have had many opportunities to dance some amazing featured roles, but I think the biggest reward would be returning to the stage after having my son. I am still in awe of this and so grateful to be dancing. I remember that first performance of Episodes thinking this has to be the best thing ever and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.