Eventually I found peace and satisfaction with what I’d been
given, relishing the role I had as a mentor within the corps and
company. The bond that exists between a bevy of swans or a flurry
of snowflakes is unlike any other. We hold each other up—
sometimes literally. And the amount of time I had onstage, even if it
was just as a villager or a Wili, was still an opportunity to perform.
Sometimes every night. As a principal or soloist you get maybe a
few shows, but in the corps I got to be in every show. Being on-
stage is what I worked so hard for. It’s the sprinkles on the sundae.
And I got a lot of sprinkles.
The reality is that not everyone can become a principal—or a
professional dancer for that matter. Accepting this does not mean
that I settled or gave up. On the contrary, it took courage! I continued to push my limitations and honed my craft with every opportunity I was given until the very end of my career. Above all, I
consciously chose to cherish every plié. Every sauté. Every second
in the studio or onstage. Because it is all a gift.
My dreams weren’t actually dashed on that November day. The
little girl who sat on those red velvet seats spent a career performing with the only company she ever wanted to dance for. Her
dream came true. n
With her professional dancing days over, Jessika Anspach McEliece
is pursuing her passions: traveling, interior design and writing.
“Being onstage is what I
worked so hard for. It’s the
sprinkles on the sundae. And
I got a lot of sprinkles.”
Sure, Odette/Odile has to deal
with the dreaded 32 fouettés
and a split personality. But
the corps performs a four-act
marathon of dancing, then
standing, then more dancing.
Every night. How can you
learn to handle the physical
Learn Your Pain Signals
Knowing the distinction
between pain you can push
through and your body’s fire
alarm sounding can be the
difference between a couple
days off and eight weeks in
Sweat in Different Ways
Prepare your body to perform
everything from body-rolls in
socks to hops on pointe by
finding a cross-training routine
that works all of your muscles.
Put Your Feet Up
Corps dancers are the
workhorses of the company,
not the show ponies. The hours
are long, the steps repetitive.
Don’t underestimate the power
of rest. If you get a weekend,
your body should too.
Feed Yourself Strategically
Your body requires fuel.
What kind of fuel you use
depends on the car you
drive—everyone is different.
There’s no magic formula.
You just have to find what
works best for you. Likewise,
nourish your soul. Whether it’s
through prayer, meditation or
long walks, cultivating other
hobbies and loves doesn’t
mean you’re cheating on
dance. It just brings balance.
(in peach) in
Ronald Hynd’s The
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