a word with roman mejia

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Seventeen-year-old Fort Worth Texas native, Roman Mejia, is having an eventful summer: graduation from The School of American Ballet in June, performing in the Vail Dance Festival in August, and the start of an apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet later this month. I caught up with this charismatic newbie to see how he’s coping…

Kirsten: You’ve just recently graduated from The School of American Ballet (SAB). Was that bittersweet?

Roman: Yes, sort of, but I’m really excited because I’m starting with New York City Ballet soon, so I’m still in New York.

K: And you’re doing exactly what you wanted to be doing. That’s so great! You’re sort of the newcomer at this year’s Vail Dance Festival. How did you get involved?

R: Well, I was walking into rehearsal at the State Theater in New York and Tiler Peck stopped me and asked if I knew who Damian Woetzel was, and I told her of course I know who Damian Woetzel is. [laughs] She said, “Well, we do this little festival in the summer and Damian would love for you to be a part of it.”

K: This “little festival”, haha, I love it. And here you are. So what are you performing?

R: I’m doing [George Balanchine’s] Tarantella with Lauren Lovette, the new [Matthew] Neenan ballet [Farewell] and the new [Michelle] Dorrance piece.

K: And how long have you been rehearsing all of that?

R: Well, the new Dorrance piece is being created here in Vail. I started the new Neenan ballet while I was still in New York a few months before SAB ended for me. After graduation I really started working on Tarantella.

K: So this is sort of the first thing you’re doing since leaving SAB?

R: This is actually the first gig I’ve ever done.

K: Ah, that’s exciting! A pretty impressive gig. What do you think of it so far?

R: I love it.

K: How has it been adjusting to the altitude and the reduced oxygen levels?

R: I was in Texas before coming here, and rehearsing Tarantella there felt so good. [laughs] Then when I came up here it was kind of a shock. And dancing outside is also a completely different story. It gets so cold at night.

K: Yikes. Can you tell me a bit about the new Neenan work you’re doing?

R: There are a lot of us in it. I dance with Lauren [Lovette] and Joe [Gordon] in the first and third movements, and then it’s James Whiteside, Misa Kuranaga and Carla Körbes in the second movement. Lauren and Joe are usually dancing together and I’m just a little ball of energy going around. The last movement is the hardest for us. Lauren starts it off, then Joe and I come on and we stay on until the end. It’s really challenging but the music is great so it keeps us going. It’s really fun to dance with Lauren and Joe.

K: Sounds really cool. What in particular excites you about Vail Dance Festival?

R: Coming from a school and having just graduated, coming here and being in class with all of these artists that I watch on YouTube is so inspiring. It’s incredible.

K: It really is. Well, congratulations and merde for the rest of your performances!

*Editor’s note: This is a retroactive post- Roman has since performed the pieces mentioned above with absolutely stellar success. To see my reviews of Roman’s performances, head here, here, and here.