Amber Neff (Corps de Ballet) began her training in New York at The Dance Design School, where she completed all of the Royal Academy of Dance vocational examinations. She went on to train at the Harid Conservatory on full scholarship and later graduated from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. Amber has danced with Boston Ballet and Richmond Ballet. She also performs with New Chamber Ballet and Intermezzo Dance Company. Amber joined The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2012.
A Conversation with Amber Neff
What is your favorite role to dance and why?
I'm not sure that I have danced my favorite role yet. My dream role would be Giselle. The depth of emotion that the role requires is what intrigues me so much. The dancer really has to fully commit to the madness and heartache of the character. To me, that's what dance is really about; being able to lose yourself completely in order to embody whatever is being asked of from the choreography. I have been lucky enough to be a "Willy" in both Boston and Richmond Ballet's productions of Giselle, and I would have to say that those have been my favorite roles yet.
What do you like to do when you are not dancing?
I am into all arts. I particularly love photography and anything culinary.
How do you prepare yourself for the physical challenges of rehearsing, performing, and touring?
It's mostly about having the right mind set. Being excited and enthusiastic for what you're going to be doing is so important. You have to love what you're doing. Other than that, lots of good food and good sleep!
What is it like to work with Ms. Farrell? Any fun and memorable stories or anecdotes about working with her?
It is a huge honor; she is a true ballet legend. Her class is unlike any other. It not only gets your body going, but she also has a way of challenging your mind.
What music do you like to listen to when you warm-up?
I don't like to put headphones in, I feel too disconnected. I like hearing the sounds of the studio as everyone around me is warming up.
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 am a huge tomboy, so nothing frustrates me more than when people think ballet is all about wearing frilly pink tutus and spinning around. It's our job to make it look easy, but it's a very, very hard career. It's both physically and mentally demanding, and most definitely not always pretty. A ton of blood and sweat goes into what gets put on stage, but that is what makes it so rewarding. You absolutely have to love it do it. Otherwise, it's just not worth it!
Do you feel an affinity for any particular choreographer?
I had the amazing opportunity to work with Jorma Elo while I was training at Boston Ballet and have since fallen in love with his work. I really like how he works with the dancers to find movement, while still keeping true to his theme. It ensures that the dancers look their best and you can really tell that the movement is natural to them. His works are very avant-garde and hugely inspiring.
What is the biggest reward in your career?
The biggest reward in dance is that feeling you get at the end of a long day of rehearsals. You're exhausted and sweaty, but you pushed through everything that was asked of you. The pieces feel and look better, but you know that you get to come in again tomorrow and push them even further. It's about pushing the limit, and then some.