Miriam Ernest (Corps de Ballet) began her ballet studies at the Southern New Hampshire Dance Theater and continued training at the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. Miriam danced for two years as a Professional Division student at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, where she performed corps de ballet roles with the company in Kent Stowell's Cinderella and The Nutcracker, Jerome Robbins's Glass Pieces, Peter Boal's Giselle, George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Ronald Hynd's The Sleeping Beauty. She has performed with Texture Contemporary Ballet in Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids Ballet Company, Ballet NY and New Chamber Ballet in New York City, and in Casse-Noissette with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal. Miriam joined The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2012.
A Conversation with Miriam
What is your favorite role to dance and why?
I love Balanchine's Serenade. The music is beautiful, and dancing in the corps de ballet of any Balanchine ballet is gratifying. My dream role is Juliet. I would love to dance to that Prokofiev score and make the movement and the story speak to and reach an audience.
What do you like to do when you are not dancing?
I love hot yoga-it helps me to stay balanced, mentally and physically. I also read, write, hang out with friends, and play the piano.
How do you prepare yourself for the physical challenges of rehearsing, performing, touring?
I cross train to ensure my body is as strong and as balanced as it can be, eat healthy foods, and make sure I get an adequate amount of sleep.
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 incredibly fulfilling. She is a beautiful person and gives so much of herself in classes and rehearsals. She has an innate sense of musicality and passion for dance that she shares with all of us. She often says, "We know what we can do, but we do not know all that we can do." I leave each season feeling inspired and remembering why I love to dance.
What music do you like to listen to when you warm-up?
I don't always listen to music before class, but when I do, it is usually upbeat and ranges from classical to more alternative. I love Bach and Dvorak and also Owl City, Marina and the Diamonds, and Tune-Yards. If there is a piece in the repertoire that has a challenging score of music, I often listen to it while working out or during my down time to gain familiarity with it.
What do you think is the most common myth about being a ballerina? What do you wish people knew about what it's really like to be a ballerina?
I think people don't realize how demanding ballet is, mentally and physically. It is extremely athletic and takes so much coordination and strength. Dance is such a beautiful art form, and dancers are so committed to their work. I wish more people could see ballet and truly be inspired by it.
Do you feel an affinity for any particular choreographer?
I definitely feel an affinity for Balanchine. His choreography is timeless and so musical. I also admire Alonzo King and his approach to dance and life. I love contemporary movement and value the time I have spent working with Andrew Bartee. He is such a kind, creative, and inspiring person, and I find so much to express through his movement.
What is the biggest reward in your career?
This career is short, and I really try to enjoy the time that I am given to dance. Ballet has given me opportunities to travel and make incredible friends across the country. I love to move and perform. But most of all, I want to be a light in the dance world and the world in general. I firmly believe that dance can be selfless and giving and that there is something deeper to express through this art form. If I can inspire someone that I work with or an audience member, that is the ultimate reward.