A personal essay written by Angela Gibson:
I have a photo of myself at probably 18 months, holding the ballet barre while my sister-who was enrolled in dance classes at the time-held my leg in arabesque. I was her real-life ballerina baby doll. After class, she would use her new ballet vocabulary to pose me in the positions she learned. I ate it up.
As a youngster I constantly danced through the kitchen, choreographed “shows” and donned tutus and ballet shoes.
Through my elementary years, my mom ran a small dance studio out of our home called Step In Time Dance. Movement, music and fun were literally out my back door. I would flit in and out of the studio and from one class to the next, always with a skip in my step. It wasn’t until later into my adolescence, though, that I became serious about ballet in particular.
Back in the day of VHS, before even mixed tapes were a thing, my mom would buy ballet videos at Border’s bookstore. I watched footage of the great Natalia Makarova in Swan Lake, or Mikhail Baryshnikov in any one of his stunning male variations. I mean who needed HD? My favorite, though, was New York City Ballet dancing in a tribute to the legendary choreographer, George Balanchine. I remember watching his ballet, “Who Cares?” set to music by George Gershwin. The movement was so quirky, the lines so long, the musicality so precise. I knew that I wanted to move in that way. My body longed for it.
It has been my honor and privilege to dance several of Mr. Balanchine’s ballets as a professional dancer and honestly it’s everything I thought it would be when I was a kid.
It has evolved and changed, but it is this legacy that generations teach the next through experience. I have been inspired by those dancers/teachers/choreographers who share their piece of its history.
I recently learned a leading role in George Balanchine’s “Serenade” from a dancer who originated the part back in the 1930s! It’s hard to put into words… but it’s the stories these individuals share, their love of the art that is so contagious, and it’s the desire to be true to the genius of these great works – to dance them well, that keeps me inspired.
My ultimate dream in relation to ballet has long been balance and I’m not talking the tips-of-my-toes kind.
Like any field that requires a high level of commitment and sacrifice at an early age, it’s easy to get swept up by a very stressful one-dimensional world. It has made my dancing and my life so much richer to have interests outside of ballet. I teach Pilates part time. I have a husband who, in spite of his best claims, can not dance. I am mom to a darling little girl. In fact, she “danced” alongside me as the Sugar Plum Fairy a couple years ago when I was 4 months along.
I am grateful that I have gotten the opportunity to live my childhood dream without sacrificing the thing that matter most in life – family.