Movement Speaks: A Conversation with Julie Kent at American University

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Movement Speaks: A Conversation with Julie Kent at American University

welcome to the Katzen arts center into the first event in what we at AU hope will be a long and fruitful partnership with our friends and neighbors at the Washington Ballet I’m Peter star the College of Arts and Sciences and to kick off this evening it’s my great pleasure to introduce American University’s 15th president and the first woman to serve in that role Sylvia Mathews Burwell she’s eager as you surely know president Burwell served as the 22nd secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services from 2014 to 2017 in this role she is widely credited with saving the rollout of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act prior to that she directed the Office of Management and Budget served as president of the Walmart Foundation and spent 11 years of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where she served both as chief operating officer and as president of the global development program President Burwell earned undergraduate degrees in government from Harvard University and in philosophy politics and economics from Oxford where she was a Rhodes Scholar he was at Oxford I gather that she won first prize in ballroom dance for doing a mean quick step Sylvia and her husband Stephen are parents of two eagles and waiting Helene and Matthew Helene is here having just come from Nutcracker practice please join me in welcoming president Sylvia Mathews Burwell thank you very much Dean star appreciate that and someone’s telling tales about my time the quickstep was was the specialty at that time and thanks to all of you all for joining us this evening and our wonderful Katzen Art Center we’re so fortunate to have this space on our campus it’s a wonderful setting that houses for us the visual arts the Performing Arts and every so often the artifacts which is an incredible rock band with a lead guitarist who moonlights as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a president who moonlights as the band’s publicist whether it’s our Dean’s or our faculty or our staff or our students there’s one thing that you’ll find here at American University that no matter where you are what campus building that you’re in American University is engaged and seeking impact and we have faculty that are on the cutting edge of their field students empowered to be creative impactful and staff that are helping to push our university forward and on this campus we try to live the African philosophy of Ubuntu which is the idea that I am because we are and that idea in that idea we are all bound together by our shared humanity and that’s the same humanity in all of

its beauty and complexity that our artists and our performers celebrate every day in this building and a used wonderful dance program began with Dr Naima Prevots and Dr. Prevots created a program that was an incubator for innovative arts under her model au was a thriving laboratory and we welcomed artists like Twyla Tharp like Anna Sokolow Jose Limon and today under British way Peterson’s leadership we’ve welcomed artists artists like Zoe Scofield Charles O. Anderson and today I am thrilled to welcome another luminary and we do that with a number of our community here tonight there are a number of our Dean’s we have our former president Neil Kerwin and Ann who are here tonight we have members of our board of trustees I think Jack Cassell is here tonight I also see Arthur Rothkopf and there may be other members so we are all here as our community to welcome another luminary and I’m getting to know Julie Kent fortunately and Julie holds the record as the longest-serving ballerina in the American Ballet Theatre 75 year history and she held the title of principal dancer and we are so fortunate that she has chosen to return to Washington DC in in 2016 to serve as the artistic director of the Washington Ballet and the idea for this event actually came about at a dinner where I was privileged to meet Julie and Julie spoke and had a conversation and it was a conversation between two folks and just listened and was very wowed by both of course what Julie has accomplished but all that she had to say and I thought how can we welcome this wonderful person in this talent to American University and to the DC community and have the opportunity for all of us to be inspired and learn from her and that is what led to this event tonight and we’re so pleased to have you and so I’m happy and honored that we will have a chance to learn from your experiences and insights tonight Julie it’s a wonderful bonus that we’re going to be joined by two special artists from right here at American University Britta Joy Peterson who serves as our director of dance at AU is an internationally produced choreographer performer and collaborator she led the design of our new and award-winning curriculum for a used Bachelor of dance which we just launched this year and will also we’re excited about it as our students and we’ll also are joined tonight by Andrew Taylor who’s chair of the department of Performing Arts and a professor of arts management here at AU professor Taylor explores the intersection of arts culture and business and is an active practitioner himself as a consultant for the arts and cultural organizations including Julie’s own American Ballet Theatre the pioneer of American modern dance Martha Graham once said dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body my hope for this evening is that Julie, Britt and Andrew will shine a light on that hidden language in perhaps they’ll even translate a bit for us tonight thank you all very much it’s a joy to welcome you to the Katzen Arts Center an American University I’m really excited about this conversation to come we’re gonna have a little preamble conversation to touch on some issue some reflections on her new role on her artistic practice from her past and how those blend together into the next chapter of her professional creative work here in DC first I believe we have a short video to sort of set us up in an elegant way do we roll it dance dance transcends words you can speak, just in a different way I’m a dancer and I have been pretty much my whole life I was the longest-serving dancer with American Ballet Theatre there are 75 year history and attitude and I wanted to return to the city where I learned my craft where I grew up and contribute to the artistic landscape of our nation’s capital DC is unlike any other city but people are coming to this city to pursue something they’re coming to pursue a career in dance we have dance everywhere the whole spectrum is happening here you pretty much find whatever your flavor is here

I danced on this stage at least once a year for 30 years so it’s my second home we are so fortunate that our city has this incredibly fertile dance loving environment there’s some real beauty in the city both has feelings of antiquity and has feelings of something new and fresh and just hatching and like it has to be more real there is nothing more inspiring than to see a group of artists in pursuit of excellence that’s what we are doing we are pursuing excellence in every single way possible that’s what art is supposed to do it’s supposed to inspire that love and interest in others for our community so there’s a bunch of threads in there that we need to tease apart so just as a first set up for those who might not be aware what exactly does an artistic director do major ballet company thank you thank you so much I feel so honored to be here yes a role of an artistic director really to store the institution forward and I for me the most important part of that title is art because it’s the reason why I have that role is my relationship with my art so how I can use my experience and my knowledge and everything that was given to me and learned how can I share that with the dancers and how can I position the art form itself to make the greatest impact within our community so but it’s it’s it’s a lot of multitasking but I really try to focus on that the art is the artistic director you program the Washington Ballet season can you tell us a little bit about how you go about that choice making process I think the choreographers are classic versus contemporary works and how you build a season for that way so at the heart of ballet company is their repertoire and it’s a very strong indicator of the caliber of the institution not unlike museum collection if you look at the repertoire of a ballet company and you see wow they have Balanchine and Robbins and Ashton and Tudor and Fokin and so you when I arrived here that was where I wanted to start the focus to build a solid foundation of master work that can set a strong artistic foundation for the dancers I mean basically dances speaking with your body so when you have a body of when you have learned a body of work by such a diverse range of choreographers who have shaped and influenced our art form in such a important way it becomes part of your language that and so we over the past three years have brought to the repertoire the Washington Ballet masterpieces by balance elder choreographers I mentioned Balanchine Fokine Ashton Franko Ratmansky Tudor Robbins as well as created two evenings just for the purpose of new work to explore new voices and and to cultivate an environment where the the possibility of a masterpiece that reflects our time and our experience and and I don’t I don’t know about you all but I don’t I don’t want to be the known in our generation that we just danced great works from the past we want to have the opportunity for great works of now but that being said in order to really identify something that’s great you have to have seen it before and so it’s about educating the dancer it’s about educating the institution and building the body of knowledge the touch points

of the audience so that when you see the spectrum you can see how all the choreographers influenced each other how you get from Petipa to Fokin to Balanchine to Ratmansky as far as a russian tradition or from Cunningham and Paul Taylor and Mark Morris or which is our next program the can American contemporary masters program that we’re presenting in October and it’s a for me it’s about connecting dots and I feel like it with most things connecting bits of information that from if you know three things and you know through things and I know three things together and I guess just skipping back a little bit I’m just curious what called you to this place DC and this company and this particular role of artistic leadership and Washington DC at Washington Ballet so what-what called you to this right well I early let’s see in 2015 I came to the determination that my performing career was coming to an end after 30 years of ABT and I while it’s somewhat romanticized and as a ballerina farewell a retirement what it really is is a working mother out of work so I was who I was facing unemployment when I I had been working since I was 16 years old like but singularly the same same doors right the same times where a subway commute the same people the same Locker I had the same Locker for 30 years I think we should I think it bear saying that Julie joined the ballet at 16 yes okay it’s so just identifying you know think of your 16 year old self and stepping into the organization that you would spend you know the next several decades I I mean that that’s incredible right it was incredible I mean of course at the time I didn’t know what was right of course future it was it was that it was all of that that even just the little description we gave plus the whole coming to terms of the end of your career and all of those things so I took some great advice and I wrote a list about post performing career goals and I at the top of the list was to share my voice as an American artist as a dancer as a woman as a ballerina and then to advocate for arts education and then below that was to help develop and nurture the next generation of dancers and then there were other smaller subsets and things but those were the three sort of big big items and I was so thrilled to land a job at ABT just on the fourth floor so all the dancing happens on the second or third floor the fourth floors the Education Department and I was really thrilled with the I was the artistic director of the summer program so I had again the great opportunity to share my voice and advocate for arts education and help develop the next generation of dancers but then a few months into that very few weeks actually I I received a call regarding if I had any interest in in taking the home of the Washington Ballet and I really was not because I wasn’t interested in leaving my life in New York, you know, and so my two children very happy in school and the the whole idea of leaving that life after that I know so well for 30 years was was scary and over but they say take the meeting so I just that’s good advice that’s what they say so I did that and well and then it progressed and over a

period of months of reflection I I had to answer for myself some important questions and of course my husband Victor Barbee who’s here tonight who has been not just my husband but my best friend and my mentor my coach and my boss and had was very very supportive and helpful in coming to these decisions but at the heart of it was to to sort of personal things and one really professional thing and the personal aspects where I wanted to be that person that accepts the challenge because I really wanted to show that example to my children I I felt that knowing that in few in few years time they’ll come to me and say mom I have this great opportunity and I’ll be their biggest cheerleader but if you don’t have the courage to actually take on that challenge yourself and how can you give advice with real honesty and so that was pretty come that was a compelling reason I so I wanted to show their mother in a leadership role I felt like it wasn’t and my husband was just you know Julie it really is a logical next step for you it’s just a matter of time and then the more directly to your question it was where and the idea of contributing to the artistic and cultural landscape of our nation’s capital is one of the greatest honors and privileges and thrills that you could have I mean not only is it our nation’s capital but it’s also where I was born and where I learned my art I was born at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and went to ballet school and in the mall with the carousel that’s torn down now but and but it’s also this really very very important city that I really want my art that I love so much to be represented here by this community not brought in and sort of you know touring company come in and yes it’s available to you but actually as a reflection of us and that’s it’s to some people maybe that’s not a probable difference but to me it’s a very important difference and so that I never give short answers that that is the long story and I guess as we before we pivot to artistic career I think just the question of what is ballet and DC so you’ve had three decades in New York and clearly touring all over the world so it wasn’t just New York but what is it that you imagined as the voice of the Washington Ballet the aesthetic the feel the sort of quality that you think this place yeah I think it’s at the root of it, what I alluded to in the video, is is excellence I mean excellence isn’t defined by size or scale it’s defined by the quality of the product and it’s also not defined by it’s just this or it’s just that if you have if you if you present excellent dance whether it’s the most classical the sleeping beauty is their next production after our contemporary masters program so our goal as the ballet company of the nation’s capital is really to present our art in its finest form and it’s not about the size and scale of the production because again it’s really about the quality of the offering and that’s where again the focus on the art the art itself is where I and Victor and our artistic staff and our whole artistic team is really focused on the quality of the art and and then our broader culture at Washington Ballet is really about the pursuit of excellence and and representing throughout our institution this sort of aspirational that the artist pursued I mean we all know this as artists that the whole the whole point of view of an artist is not seeking perfection it’s seeking improvement a dancer starts every day at the bar in first position whether you’re student at American University or

whether you’re in Italian Mahabharat like we all just start where we finished the day before and we try to improve we build we move forward and that kind of it’s very inspiring us like the Fountain of Youth you know not to because each day has the potential to be better the potential to just you know the details that all of those things that differentiate be differentiate between good and great is our focus as dancers everyday and if that can sort of be crystallized and resonate into the community as this sort of great artistic pride of our city that’s that’s what our you know that’s sort of metaphorical way that’s our our goal and then to be realized by the quality of our performances okay lovely so thinking of excellence thinking of improvement the pursuit of improvement I love that we’d love to hear a little bit about your work as a performer and specifically I’m curious if there’s any particular role or process that you felt was really pivotal in your journey as a performer who seeks excellent is there one that stands out well I had quite it I mean a rich career yes I have a rich career but I think very few of us are born graded anything okay and I’m certainly one of those people I just had the benefit of a lot of really really great people that helped me and I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with just incredibly large spectrum of very talented people who believed in me or saw something in me and wanted to help me now that being said especially because we have students in the audience what my husband always reminds me is that I also inspire that interest in those teachers and with what I did with the information they gave me so when you’re a student you’re not necessarily through the eyes of the person that’s helping you because you’re so outward focused but whatever I was able to take what they gave me and put it in and then something came out that then inspired them to give me more and I took more and then over 30 years I became a ballerina there were of course some big bumps in the road like everyone you know and to think that there will never be bumps this is its fantasy of course there’s bumps it’s just how you get over them yeah everybody’s gonna have bumps yes there’s no paper you can push ahead of you it’s how you handle the bumps and so to give you a specific example one one moment was when I was making my debut in Manon ok so my first roles principal roles with American Ballet Theatre were the heroine so Giselle Juliet Caroline and Antony Tudor Jardin aux Lilas so obviously I was was a young woman so I playing but the ingenue you knew I guess is the best descriptive word so then I am cast as Manon who is not an ingenue and I had one I had watched the I’d been in the ballet and watched the ballet and watched Alessandra Ferry and some other wonderful ballerinas and and I had in my head what I wanted to look like and I was trying so hard to get it to look the way I wanted and I was not making progress and it was really frustrating and it was sort of I was getting input the maestro came in it you should do this imagine the pianist Julia she come you know this you know I mean everybody was giving me input oh yeah and so you know my husband Victor who I’m not sure if he was my husband at that time of it or not but you know he really made it clear to me that I really needed to know how Manon felt and then whatever I did would be

right so that the movement was inspired by the emotion hmm so it wasn’t that she did this because she liked how it looked she did this because she knew she wanted him to feel a certain way right she she felt a certain way that inspired as all of a sudden it’s a very subtle difference but one has an authentic quality that resonates and makes people feel something and another just looks like couldn’t look good or couldn’t look bad but he does it’s not it’s not I don’t know it just well it’s representation yeah yeah so so that’s a moment but it was there were tears right Victor there were tears and there was a lot of but a great teacher just break it down like but as you said that’s detangle the threads let’s get to scene by scene what are you feeling here how are you how do you get from this scene to that scene a lot of our work at ABT is narrative it’s storytelling and unless you really know how the story unfolds you can’t become a good storyteller so you know that’s just one example of thousands of of what how lucky I was to have that person to help me figure out how to tell a story with authenticity and realness and then the fields the physicality is inspired and informed by the sensitivity and Sensibility of you you yeah I know and what we’re not even going to talk about thirty-two fouettes sure that’s fine but there was a lot of help with you know getting all of the physicality and getting yourself to where you needed to be to to just physically and that the actual technique demands of the technique of our art form athleticism yeah I mean it’s it’s how do you cross the finish line and push yourself and manage your instrument and manage your lifestyle and and not obsess about things instead of working for it you know it there’s there’s just a tremendous amount that was taught shared with me and helped and so that that is just such a huge benefit for our dancers now that I can help them navigate the very very complicated terrain of a dancer and hopefully at the end of the day leave them with careers that have meant so much to them and that they love so much and that the art form that that gave them this life that they will be inspired to steward it and Shepherd it and make it relevant and keep it going and I I am now so my role now is really just it serves as a debt of gratitude to my art form and to those who who helped me to have the career I had but what role have you performed the most I would say either I would say either Juliet, Swan Lake and Giselle probably the the big three can you tell us a little bit about the difference between originating a role and then and then stepping in to, right, someone that you know well like stepping into Giselle versus being the originator of a piece well they’re both incredibly rewarding I am loved I mean I love being the muse I mean you know that’s really a very it’s a it’s a very beautiful and interesting collaboration with the choreographer it’s very different depending on who the choreographer is but sort of I always think of it as a metaphor and I have in my mind as you when you walk in the studio when you’re creating a piece is just to what big white canvas and it’s just how you put your signature and your footprint in your body and into it and make it your own and there’s great satisfaction in that especially if the ballet has legs and lives on oh so much new work is you know it’s just the benefit is really in the process this itself it’s not necessarily that it’s created and it’s going to be lasting and

you’ll see it over and over but what the dancers and the choreographer and the audience that supports the experience get out of it is really the heart of how you develop an artist you know again you don’t just you’re not not just great you get great by the process and then taking the next level and again the building that I was referring to you before now bringing to life a role that has been dance many many times or by many different legends is also exciting and somewhat daunting because you have big shoes to fill there’s a standard measure there’s that there’s an expectation there’s an expectation and so you have to manage that and for me I was always very supported by Kevin McKenzie our artistic director and by Victor who always supported my exploration of my own performance I was oh and my my coach or mentor Georgina Parkinson who was a ballerina with the Royal Ballet she she would always just say give a performance like she was so supportive of me just giving my performance not be more like this or be more of that or you know so I what although I in my work my portrayal of those great roles were singularly mind you know they weren’t sort of an impersonation of somebody else so I wonder I’m just pivoting them to your next chapter your new chapter this chapter whether you are a civic leader institutional leader community leader sort of an animator of both the artistic and the cultural life of DC I’m curious what you bring from your process and your practice into that work and there’s already some great stuff you’ve given us about we all start in the first position right and then it’s not about perfection but about improvement that’s pretty useful I’m gonna use that one and this idea that movement so much of management and and community leadership is about behavior and not about intention and emotion but for behavior so it just strikes me there’s a bunch of ways that you might draw upon your creative practice your creative process in this launching into the DC community and doing what you do I rely on the same methods and approach that have been so much a part of my life as a dancer knowing how we start here and we have to get there and you don’t just get there because you want to get there or you get there by first of all doing the work to get there and you do the work hopefully in a very linear way where you build each day forward going forward working towards that goal working working working and so that’s a as far as how our approach to the great aspirations and exciting hopes and dreams that we have of where we want to take the Washington Ballet and how we want it to interface and impact our community we have a huge school so we have we have a very large reach already into the community but again it’s where do you how how can you do better you know how can you do just add to that experience and build on it and it’s a it’s a methodical approach and and I’m so grateful for so much of the training that that my life as a dancer has given me that I also think it’s honestly achieving a certain getting to a certain level in any field I think how you get there is very similar in all different fields and that’s what I find fascinating because they look very different and the language is different I’m always I’m this has been an interesting I love words and I find that the language of administration – yeah cheers to that

but it’s I I love it and I but I also realized that it’s a it’s a way to communicate you know it’s that it’s the specificity of the words and how if you need the message to change you have to change the words you can’t just use the same language all the time and so having really good words to articulate what it is that you want in in administrative setting or it’s it’s very important and dance it’s it’s a different I mean we have fondue, degage, plie, arabesque line your foot wing like we have all kinds of words that people that aren’t dancers would be like huh. My friend is like it sounds like food groups fondue and frappe trip to Starbucks yeah but so I’m grateful for for those overlaps and I always love to discuss with others those similar the parallels and I mean clearly there’s there’s differences too but that you know art is supposed to you know it’s funny from the management side a bunch of management theory uses the artistic language as if you know a business is like a theatre production it’s like an ensemble it’s like a dance and I want to say have you ever keep in dance yes that’s right it’s just just not actually seeing the the rigor and the depth and the sweat and the work and the mess that gets you to that beautiful moment and you’re all working so hard on the stage but it looks like you’re floating so I just love how business loves to sort of adapt the metaphor of artistic practice but doesn’t quite get what that means she’s more of the things you’re talking about is leading with intent and emotion and just getting better and starting in first position and going so I’m we’re excited to see how that that works and I know we have some question around advice I want to just be ready because we’re gonna pivot then two questions from you and we want to spend some time doing that but so knowing that there’s many students student artists and performers student managers student mathematicians student audio technologists right like we have lots of students present in this space what is it what advice would you give to your 18 to young self yeah like 18 to 20 year old stuff what advice would you give as somebody who’s leading you know a really you know thick career that’s full of art and community building well there’s there’s tons of advice that you could give but for like Julie now talking to Julie then right I I think I think that one thing especially in relationship to my field is in general I think you are mostly remembered for the person you are and not for your work especially by your colleagues and they you may they they will be part of your life forever so I I that’s that’s an important legacy sort of making sure that you build a a path forward founded on sort of integrity and good principles how do you find integrity not to put you on the spot but it’s good to have hard questions I I think it’s a an inner truth I guess it’s something that you believe to be true and something that you are willing to defend you know I think that that’s how I would sort of find myself and people

whether or not they can recognize that I think in individuals even if what that they’re sort of putting their flat platform on isn’t of interest to them or it’s something you can still see it wow that person they really believe in that you know that kind of that they that kind of integrity that they have to that is is recognizable and admirable and so I think that that’s that is what I went after especially in you know for me I we unique career because the dancers life is as a performer is very short you know so mine was long but in general you’re looking at your performing career certainly ending you know in your 30s 40s or early 50s and so that’s a long life to live where you’re not actually doing your art right so you want to make sure people remember not just oh that performance 40 years ago but remember the person that Julie I don’t know if that’s a good end I think it’s a lovely in there take it yeah that’s what we got tonight perfect so we’re gonna open up the space for some questions and per the tradition of American University we’re gonna take the first question from a student and then we’ll have time for several so we don’t all have to shoot our hands up at once but like Marita just did but who who is a question great let’s start with Marita because she was very excited there’s microphones we have make sure everyone can hear you yeah adds a little bit more pressure so this is great yeah hi so hold it nice and high high some people have heard this story but some not American I’m actually from Cyprus which is like a tiny island next to Greece it’s like so small we have no National Ballet Company we haven’t no dance companies whatsoever and I’m really happy to be here asking you this question because I remember being in my room a couple of years ago watching your YouTube video we our last performance and ABT and I never had seen your performances but anyway you and many of your colleagues at abt taught me ballet because I lived in a community where outside the studio my own resources or literally books on YouTube so I just I was just wondering like you and your colleagues and colleagues from other companies as big as abt do you ever consider realize that your work doesn’t only shape the American dance landscape but also the international landscape especially in communities were ballet something so not integrated and something so foreign right well thanks Marita thank you and thank you for sharing such a special moment in my life with me you know when I started my career you know it was the height of the Cold War and Ronald Reagan was president the internet really wasn’t even a conception so they’re the understanding that any that YouTube and you can Google Pavlova and and any number of performances and see is still somewhat not it’s not right at the top of my brain it sort of oh yeah so probably no I don’t think that we are cognizant of that appetite in places that don’t have they expose the ability to go and see right for your and I’m so happy for it and I’m happy for for now because in my role of just researching and creating productions where we will be staging our own production of Sleeping Beauty it’s so fascinating to research on YouTube and all of the different productions you can go back so far, its a black hole, event if it’s just a little excerpt you get a sense of it and it’s a fascinating thing so well I’m very glad to have inspired you in Cyprus do another student we should do one moisturizer where’s the mic no so so we

want to use to make so that our folks who are hard of hearing and then for the folks who are watching via video I think hi so my question was when you’re looking for a dancer to work with and one of your performances what’s like the first thing that you look for do you look for like ballet technique and then like type of person that they are like what’s like the list or if you have a list like what’s the way that you choose somebody that you want to work with right well it’s it’s it’s difficult especially when there’s so few spots so generally it comes down to first of all man or a woman do you need another man in the company or do you need a want another woman company and then it comes down to it’s never a decision in in a vacuum it’s sort of how does this how will this dancer fit into the landscape of the whole so it’s not because no dancer doesn’t just appear on by themselves so it’s a sum total and then so that that’s a little bit of a that’s a much more specific criteria when you’re actually considering dancers for position in your company but for what what do i what what do I look for in identifying somebody that I feel has that grabs my attention it’s a lot of different things it’s an interest how you’re looking at me now is like this hunger you know I want to hear what you have to say and I’m not so insecure that I can’t take what you tell me and and not sort of take it in and that may sound like it’s an easy thing to do but it’s not especially if you’re insecure and so it’s a kind of you have to I guess it’s based on trust that’s the thing if you innately sense that you that person trusts you and that you can share them share with them what you’re thinking and feeling and help and that they will then receive what you have to say and want more that’s a big thing and then it’s whatever how you handle stress it’s a stressful thing when you’re an audition and people are evaluating you and so having an confidence in yourself that you can stand up to it and maintain sense of humor or sense of just a sense of it’s not a the life or just if I don’t get this job oh you know that’s that’s not handling the stress well and an openness obviously there’s then there’s the whole dance we haven’t even talked about dancing that we’re just talking about rehearsing a person yeah and then but it’s there’s never a shortage of good dancers it’s very very rarely the dance itself right it’s a person you know and then you see the person influences the dance so yeah we took the students we went we were at the American university or rather the college associations conference and one of the panelists was talking about how dancers have gotten so good yes and and how we really are at a place in our field where the the dancer is almost a superhero because they are so skilled which is a really beautiful time to live in there’s no shortage of talent or you have dancers there’s shortage of contracts right well and and people the people who have what you’re talking about so it’s not just being a skilled dancer it’s about being a person who’s interested in entering the process with authenticity and who strives for excellence like you spoke about that’s great let’s get another question we have this gentleman on the side microphone now that the me to movement has entered now that the me too movement has entered the world of dance what are the special challenges in an art form where there’s constant close physical contact and could that actually cause dancers to be more cautious which I guess is not a good thing and secondly during your long career could you have sense that there were cases of harassment or these you

know me to issue okay your first question I think it’s definitely the responsibility of the organization to create a safe environment where people feel safe and feel that they have support if there is anything happening that feels uncomfortable or not right or something that is clearly not right you know and that’s I mean that’s just that that that’s not special that just should be that’s what it is that’s what it needs to be so we certainly create that’s a requirement of our company and our experience again I think the two you’re the second part of your first question about will it does it affect dancers considering the intimacy of our work not really I mean I certainly haven’t seen it because the foundation of our relationship again is on trust I mean you are throwing yourself into the arms of your partner and you’re trusting they’re gonna catch you and you are a dancers life is such a it’s such a closed community that is very very intimate I mean it’s a physical art form and so your you have to be you sign a sort of contract of trust that that you’re going to allow yourself to be vulnerable in front of people in fact that’s what you’re supposed to do and that’s that’s the real beauty of our art form is that we are we allow ourself to be completely vulnerable not just in front of our friends and colleagues but honest on a stage they both take one takes more courage in front of thousands of people and I think the other is trust so as far as the second question which was second question was whether you did you sense any oh in my career did I have any I mean no I I was never ever put in a position certainly if I have to think this hard about it yeah I I’m very proud of that and what I know about what privilege yes but lucky me I mean it wasn’t a part of no I never and honestly I mean I joined abt in 1985 and you wouldn’t believe how many people said oh look out for so and so or look out for some so I was I was not I was a young naive inexperienced 16 year old and I was again just very well shepherded and well guided and and I’m very proud of the institution that I worked in that I didn’t experience any of that and it’s also a reflection of the leadership and as for the bulk of my career the leadership was Kevin McKenzie as artistic director and Victor Barbie as associate artistic director and I mean I think it comes from the top and now you’re the top in the fourth row and then yes I noticed a couple more hands thank you were you when you started ballet and how soon after that did Hortense Fonseca realized that you had special I’m just gonna repeat the question so the question was how old was Julie when she started and how quickly did she recognize her skill and talent well my teacher Fonseca well I started ballet at Somerset elementary after-school program when I was seven in the cafeteria and mrs. Fonseca was my teacher and then I went to Maryland News ballet twice a week when I was eight years old and I think mrs. Fonseca could identify that I had very beautiful ballet feet when I was very little because everybody used to ask me a point your feet I didn’t really know what I just did is that good why would you think great no it’s just

that that part of a lace a little weird but that there’s this obsession with the foot but anyway they seemed it like that and you know I wasn’t like a child prodigy I was just a child I love ballet and I was wearing my mother was also a teacher and so she really guided me and Shepherd me very well and my older sister studied ballet so it was a family activity and it wasn’t really until I started receiving scholarships to summer programs and stipends and I was winning some competitions and and then you know my mother might have something and then yeah it but it was a very fast from age 13 to 16 is we’re really it just kind of all went from I don’t know what I’m gonna do when I grow up – oh okay demonstrate to the other little kids hi so we’ve touched briefly on the vulnerability involved in dance and also the amount of self discipline that it takes I was wondering what habits you’ve sort of picked up to take care of yourself and make sure that like the self-discipline balances with a sort of self compassion and sort of what you would say to younger artists who are trying to find that skill right well being a dancer is one of the requirements for better or worse being very self-absorbed it’s really challenging for the people around you however it’s that constant checking of where you are in your physical and it’s a physical art form so how is your instrument doing is it tired is it rested is it fed is it is this inspired to make this move and so when you’re younger it’s easier because you are less responsible for other people and other things you know it’s a and you’re young so you bounce back pass then you got more energy and you just make it happen but I think where I really again I learned so much from my husband who guided me and his career at abt was 42 years and still performing 42 years on the stage I mean it’s it’s it’s amazing what he contributed how he managed and then and then helped manage this ballerina sort of keep it keep it moving forward but one of the things that really did help me more specifically to the wonderful words that you used was when I became a mother and I was responsible to taking care of another human and making sure was well fed and well rested and then I thought oh that’s how you should be taking and making sure you have eat the rainbow and not just the fast I only have time to have all have a Starbucks or whatever but you know and I thought oh you know so whenever now when I give that advice

to young people like you know you need to look after yourself as if you were looking after a baby you know somebody that you will you care so much about you want to make sure grows up well we don’t always look at ourselves and that lens especially when you’re so focused on something and want to get want to get there so I think that I learned a lot from from that from mother I’m going to learn so much more motherhood in in the huge many many ways but as far as taking care of your physical body I think that really helped luckily I think one more more gentleman here get the microphone hi my name’s Ryan I’m a very interesting confluence of everything here I’m a proud a you grad I am actually a former student professor Taylor here and the arts management program perform under the performing arts and now actually a member of the board of the Washington Ballet so I am thrilled to be here and it’s through all this confluence that I asked this question and that in this through two things one through the through the lens of a threatened arts landscape where arts funding and I’d say even the NEA itself is under threat at times and also in a broader entertainment landscape where there’s more entertainment options for between Netflix and Amazon and everything and YouTube and also the other forms of Performing Arts that are all around I love to have you try to make the case as I try to do as an ambassador for the ballet and even as a you as a you grad as well why does ballet matter like why should someone go to the ballet this is a good board member you are so right and there is so much entertainment available at our fingertips in a screen and but there is nothing more moving and beautiful to watch the manifestation of the culmination of years of devotion and discipline and love and time all culminating and something made just for you the audience just to share that with the audience and what happens the dance just go back to work go back to the bar and they try to make it even more beautiful the next day and that it’s so inspiring to think people commit their lives to do that just to give you that moment in your life where you feel like we’re connected just without words we don’t even need to talk we just need to move and and we have the beautiful sister of dance music so we get to just really celebrate what it is to be human in such a very divine and organic primal way you know and so you have this beautiful sort of there’s something that’s just so old and then there’s something that’s so yeah the divinity and dance that just it really makes you feel grateful to be human and so I don’t necessarily get that on my iPad although you know I like Netflix too but I don’t I don’t feel the same and so and yeah okay so I want to thank Julie Kent let’s give her another grateful for Britta Peterson for President Burwell for Dean Starr for

American University and for Washington Ballet this is a first chapter we hope and and what will unfold to be all sorts of adventures together and I know I’m walking away from this knowing I need to start in first position I need to stop worrying about perfection and we can focus on improvement and I love this idea of the big white canvas that’s just any room you walk into so you’ve already given me extraordinary gifts and I know we’re all grateful for the time and energy and attention we’re so excited for the next chapter Washington Ballet so thank you all for coming