{an interview with} an american in paris

Hello, all!  I’m so pleased to finally be able to share with you a guest post from Rhiannon Pelletier of A Dancer’s Days.  Ms. Pelletier had a chance to catch up with former Miami City Ballet soloist Sara Esty, who recently landed a role in An American In Paris, Broadway’s newest show that’s compelling dancers everywhere to hop a plane to the city- STAT.  As a child of theater, I’m loving all the ballet representation on Broadway stages as of late, and could hardly contain my excitement to sneak a peek at what it might be like to actually experience this integration.  Oh, and if the star-studded cast and original Christopher Wheeldon choreography weren’t enough, the Paris debut sent my Esty-envy right over the edge.  For a behind-the-scenes dip into the life of a ballerina on Broadway, check out Rhiannon’s take:

“At my home, Maine State Ballet, there isn’t a person in the building who fails to snap to attention when the words, ‘The Estys are here’, trickle down the hallways. We all know who they are; their names have become somewhat of a legacy. Twins Sara and Leigh-Ann Esty, from small-town Gorham, Maine, have roots planted firmly with our school and company. They not-so-quietly climbed through the ranks and took on roles as prestigious as the Dew Drop Fairy in The Nutcracker. A dynamic duo they are.


Sara & Leigh-Ann Esty, respectively

The two eventually migrated down to take on the Miami City Ballet where they stayed for ten years. Leigh-Ann is currently a corps de ballet member with the company and Sara Esty reached as high a rank as soloist before an exciting opportunity came her way…

Sara was kind enough to work in between her busy schedule and indulge me with a Facebook conversation about her new and exciting life.

Firstly, congratulations on your life (no, seriously). You’ve certainly taken advantage of this blossoming crossover between ballet and Broadway. How did this opportunity come about?

Thank you so much!!! So I had been with the ballet company in Miami for about 10 years and one day I literally got a random Facebook message. It was from a casting director in NYC, saying she was working on a new project with Christopher Wheeldon for Broadway and asked if I would be interested in contacting her. There was no doubt in my mind that the answer was yes! Two of my favorite worlds were colliding – how could I not be part of it? I wrote her back and soon came to find they were looking around in professional dance companies for artists interested in singing and acting for a new version of An American in Paris. The rest is history!

That’s incredible. Has Broadway always been something on the bucket list?

I think I’ve always had a theatrical personality and drive about me, but it wasn’t till around high school that I made the promise to myself it would happen someday.

Coming from a small-town atmosphere, was the prospect of opening this premier Broadway show in Paris, one of the biggest cities in the world, overwhelming? … I mean, you are the “American in Paris!”

Haha! Yes, I mean all I was prepared for was to do what I know how to do… The rest was icing on the cake. I love the show and the experiences and places it has brought me so far. It can be overwhelming at times but mostly exciting and extremely gratifying!

What an adventure… Could you describe a typical day for the cast while you guys were in Paris?

Well, we had the mornings off typically and then would rehearse a bit after around noon. Shows were around 7 or 8. Other than that we had Paris at our finger tips!

I understand that you and Leigh-Ann have been blessed to work side by side one another for almost all of your professional careers. How are you coping with being separated for the first extended period of time?

Leigh and I have been dancing by each others sides for over 20 years. Being apart in life, let alone at ballet, has been a bit of a struggle. Good and bad I would say! The worst thing is just missing each other and having to catch one another up on our daily activities, people, and lives where as we never used to have to do that. We have gotten more used to it, and because we are so close, nothing changes whenever we see each other. It also came at an appropriate time I think. Independence is such an important thing for siblings, and we are really loving finding ourselves as individuals. Needless to say, I hope we get to dance together again one day!! This time is important and healthy though. :)

There are rumors twirling around that you’re dating a fellow cast member, can you confirm or deny them?

Haha, yes I can happily confirm them. What can I say, Paris is a magical place! We started out as friends. I’ve always wanted to find someone who is first and foremost a good friend :)

Last question! How did it feel to perform as the lead for the first time at the Palace Theatre?

It was unreal, surreal, emotional, empowering, exciting – all of the above! Life dreams –

I can’t thank Sara enough for taking time out of her wonderful, busy life to indulge her fans! You’ll never meet more gracious, humble, extraordinary people than Sara and Leigh-Ann.

* Sara is dating fellow cast member Will Burton (and may I recommend them both as perfect candidates to stalk on Instagram). She will be performing the lead in An American in Paris July 21-26. Don’t miss it. She’s incredible 

UPDATE: Sara will now be performing the role of Lise for the production’s Wednesday matinee performances beginning July 15th.”

Thank you Rhiannon and Sara for your contributions.  Such a fun read!

ballet on broadway

broadway ballerinas

If you read Pointe or Dance Spirit Magazine, or keep an ear to the wings of the David H. Koch Theater, you may have already heard that several of NYCB’s favorite ballet dancers are dipping their callused toes into the lights of Broadway.  The first dancer to challenge her Balanchine-technique with musical theater is Ms. Tiler Peck, who will star in Susan Stroman’s Little Dancer, a show based on Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged 14 sculpture, and one that was created exclusively with Peck in mind.  Proving they are as in sync career-wise as they are romantically, Tiler’s NYCB-dancer husband, Robbie Fairchild, will take on the title role in Christopher Wheeldon’s adaptation of the Gene Kelly classic, An American in Paris (of course), which premieres this season in Paris, before making its move to Broadway.  However remarkable (and adorable) as this power-couple may be, it’s Robbie’s sister Megan Fairchild (also a principle with NYCB) who has really caught my attention.  Opening this month, Megan will star in Broadway’s revival of the On The Town, (sort of an expanded version of Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, in ballet terms).  It’s exciting to see ballet dancers who aren’t afraid to be more than just bunheads- and their versatility and acting skills are seriously impressive!  Check out Ms. Fairchild in rehearsal for her “Miss Turnstiles” number, in which-as the story goes, she just has been chosen as New York City’s prettiest subway-riding lady of the month (oh, the 1940s and their taboo behaviors, gotta love it)…

I love that choreographer Joshua Bergasse really challenged her, creating an epic, action-packed scene that takes some serious stamina.  And Ms. Fairchild conquers everything he’s thrown at her with the finesse of a true professional- from quick petit allegro to complicated lifting sequences, all culminating in a mènage and a considerable amount of fouettés.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it!  Really hoping to make it to the Big Apple to catch this one live…



photos via here and here

on set at the columbus


After smacking Alex in the chest with my forearm for the fifth time, an angry breath escaped through my lips.  It’s difficult to piqué in menège through a tiny gap between your partner and a giant camera, on toes that haven’t smelled pointe shoes in nearly 4 months.

Being a ballet dancer certainly creates some pretty interesting opportunities outside of the studio, especially when you’ve recently decided to say ‘yes’ to everything and you’re also fairly strapped for cash.  It turns out there’s a real market out there for bunheads in need of sporadic work.  This weekend’s odd job du jour had me filming a mock Gatorade commercial in a rather dingy- but potentially quite lovely- old theater on the West end of Providence called The Columbus.  The space is currently a live music venue, but this Sunday it played the role of “studio space” to Alex and I, as we demonstrated the underrated athleticism of ballet.

Boston-based Old Harbor Production Company reached out to FBP about hiring 2 dancers for a promotional project comparing a basketball practice to a ballet rehearsal.  The finished product will parallel a “day in the life” of the basketballer and the ballerina (myself), showcasing the surprising similarities between the two, both in endurance and elegance.  While I must say I felt a bit strange walking into the theater over and over with a big shiny lens in my face, and I will never be able to un-see my feet doing an entrechat quatre up close and in slow motion, downing a bottle of Gatorade dripping in spritzed-on sweat for the commercial’s climax was a bit of an iconic, surreal, PINCH ME moment and I won’t soon forget it.

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