February 5, 2011

New York City Ballet: LYDIA WELLINGTON

It is rare for a childhood activity to become an adult career, but for Lydia Wellington, it was a natural progression. Lydia was born in New York City and began dancing in 1997 at the School of American Ballet at the age of seven, where she gained her stride in the dancing world in children’s roles in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and Serenade, Jerome Robbins’ 2&3 Part Inventions and Fanfare, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Scenes de Ballet--all this while balancing her studies at LaGuardia High School, where she graduated with awards in five subjects. Lydia continued her pursuit of dance to become an apprentice with the New York City Ballet in June 2008, and then succeeded in joining the Company as a member of the Corps de Ballet in October of the same year. Lydia has been recognized as a dancer with enormous potential, and was awarded the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise in 2008 by the School of American Ballet.

Lydia is at once living in a world of sugar plumb fairies and Vivaldi that seems so distant from the lives of most New Yorkers, yet she is fiercely down to earth with a secure sense of her environment.

One sentence to describe the ballet world:
We are a really big family full of problems (and happiness).

How many hours a week do you rehearse?
From 10-25 hours, and that's on top of class every day and shows at night.

Your thoughts on Black Swan?
It actually caught on to a lot of truths about the ballet world, but over-exaggerated these to an extreme.

Most accurate stereotype about ballerinas:
We watch what we eat. I don’t mean this in an eating-disorder way, though, which is the stereotype. But a dancer cannot perform every night and look in peak shape by eating McDonalds every day, no matter how much we want to.

About ballerinos?
I think about half of the male dancers in any company are gay.

The most challenging part of dancing?
For me, it’s the swollen feet. Sometimes they’re so puffy that it’s hard to fit your feet in your pointe shoes, let alone walk in them. It puts you in the worst mood, and then everything about dancing is challenging.

The most rewarding:
When you come home from a day of rehearsals and your body and mind are so tired that the only thing you can do is pick up the phone to order in food, take a warm bath, and crash on the couch. That feeling makes me satisfied that I’ve put everything into my day at work.

Your favorite role:
Second Violin in Concerto Barocco.

When did you first know you wanted to pursue ballet as a career?
There was never a moment when I decided—it was more of a progression.

Accomplishment of which you are most proud:
Getting into New York City Ballet, and then buying my apartment.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?
I feel like I’ll be starting to retire in 10 years. It’s a short career, especially with the amount of dancing we do at NYCB. Maybe I’ll be transitioning to a smaller company in Europe to wind down, or maybe I’ll be married and starting a family. But it’s too early to think about that now.

Your greatest fear:
Finding out that I have really bad financial credit.

How do you deal with performance nerves?
I shake my arms out and try to take big deep breaths, or just groan. But usually there’s nothing you can do—just let those nerves make your performance more exciting.

How do you unwind?
Sit on my couch with snacks and watch The Office. Or swimming for 15 minutes and then going in the sauna.

Your guilty pleasure:

I’m really stingy when I go shopping, so buying something that costs more than $20.

Most overrated virtue:
Being honest. I am known for this, and I’ve actually made a friend cry before by being honest. But then again, this is what my friends like me for...in moderation.

Quality you most value in a friend:
Someone who can get me out of a grumpy mood and put a smile on my face.

Dancer that you most admire:
Wendy Whelan. She has the most unique qualities to her dancing, and she’s also an incredibly humble and approachable person.

Music/composer that most inspires you:
Vivaldi always makes me want to dance.

Your motto:
Be true to yourself and do what will make you happy.

Your favorite place to dance in NYC:
A friend’s living room late at night.

1 comment:

  1. My daughter bought Lydia"s shoes and was so happy to hear me read this interview to her. She is seven and we just saw Firebird.