An interview with Deanna McBrearty - Corps Ballerina - New York City Ballet
- Offstage with the Dancers
Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn
By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 15, 2003
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
Deanna McBrearty is a Corps Dancer in New York City Ballet. She has been reviewed in "Fancy Free" and continues to be reviewed in the Repertory Season. Ms. McBrearty met with me in the private cafeteria of the Rose Building, Lincoln Center, to discuss her background and experience as a young ballerina and rising talent in New York City Ballet. Ms McBrearty is also a spokesperson for Danskin, a Sponsor of ExploreDance.com.
Deanna McBrearty as Coffee in The Nutcracker
Choreography by George Balanchine
Photo by Paul Kolnik
Deanna McBrearty in 2 & 3 Part Inventions
Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Photo by Paul Kolnik
REZ - Tell me how you started studying ballet?
DMB - My first teacher was Miss Troll, in her living room, where I learned basic steps at age nine. My mother was a nurse, and she also made it possible for me to perform for people, who weren't well. When I was thirteen, I started more reality training. Most dancers start at age seven or eight. I was far from that.
REZ - When did you start serious training?
DMB - When I was12, I started training at Wilkes-Barre, PA, at a Ballet Company. I danced with them for a year and then moved away to Carlisle, PA, to study with the Central PA Youth Ballet. I moved in with a host family.
REZ - To skip ahead, when did you become affiliated with New York City Ballet?
DMB - Also, when I was 12, I auditioned in Saratoga Springs for Circus Polka, and Garielle Whittle chose me and about 20 other girls from about 700. I guess I fit the costume and had a nice smile.
REZ - So, you've been a member of New York City Ballet for how long?
DMB - From my work, performing as a child, I learned about the School for American Ballet. Starting at age 13, I began taking intensive summer courses there at the Julliard Building and went for four summers straight until 1990. At that time, I was chosen to stay in the school for a full year. It used to be that New York City Ballet took dancers only from the School for American Ballet. I had to finish schooling here at the Professional Children's School on West 60th Street. I studied at the School for American Ballet for two years and was accepted into New York City Ballet in June, 1992.
REZ - How did you become a spokesperson for Danskin?
DMB - I've worn Danskin since I was little. I saw posters of Darci Kistler (Principal Dancer) and Merrill Ashley (Now Teaching Associate) in the Danskin store in Reading, PA, and never imagined it would be me one day. Now I'm the one on the tags. I did a photo shoot and worked with David Hodgen, and then, a year later, I ended up working for Danskin. He proposed having a professional dancer represent a line of Danskin. It would be more effective. I represent their Dancewear.
REZ - How did you train for your role in Fancy Free? I loved the way you were so self-assured and swung that large, red pocketbook.
DMB - I use a lot of my own imagination, while I perform. It's enormously important to be present. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. There's a huge Sneetch character with yellow feathers that just knows where it's going. I turned Jean-Pierre Frohlich's (Asst. Ballet Master) words into a Seuss image. This role is supposed to be humorous and sexy. It's important not to look like there's anger. The sailors and I have to develop a relationship. That's important, because that's the point, where you add flirtation, and it's important not to bring anger into it.
REZ - Which is your favorite role that you're performing currently?
DMB - This Season, I do one of the Pas de Trois' of Agon. I love that part. I love the sporadic counts of Stravinsky and the angular, fast movement. And, I love getting to dance with Damian Woetzel or Peter Boal. I like to deeply feel that what I'm doing is not just surface.
REZ - Are you in Symphony for Three Movements? I'm seeing this ballet at least three times and enjoying it more each time.
DMB - Yes. It's about exploding at each entrance, as we jump onto the stage. It's very high energy, as opposed to Serenade, where you just melt into the music. This ballet has a dark angel.
REZ - I know that you are off to rehearsal now. How long do you rehearse?
DMB - We have rehearsals between 12 noon and 6 PM every day. There are 45 ballets to get rehearsed, before the end of the Season. Then, we perform from 8 - 10 PM.
REZ - I'll be here Friday night (January 17). Are you performing?
DMB - Great. I'll be performing in Symphony for Three Movements.
REZ - So, that will be my third time to see this amazing ballet!