Thursday, 6 May 2010

Janie Taylor, New York City Ballet Principal dancer, interviewed for 'Cupcakes & Conversation'

Cupcakes & Conversation with Janie Taylor, Principal, New York City Ballet

Photography throughout :  Paul Kolnik

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
I am usually dead asleep at 8am on a Monday morning. It is our one day off each week.

What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?
Well we don't always know what we will be dancing very far ahead of time, so it's hard to say. But our Spring season has lots of good Balanchine and 6 new ballets, so I think it will be a good one!

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
I only got the chance to dance a couple times with Nikolaj Hübbe. I would have loved to dance with him more while he was in the company.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
The Acropolis in Athens. I have been on tour there with the company but wasn't in the two performances (or programs) we had there. The stage was so incredible and I remember being really disappointed I didn't get to dance on it.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I bend my shoes where my 3/4 shank ends and close it in the hinge side of a door. I do the same with the tip of the shoe too, bending it while I smash it.

What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I wake up at 9am and slowly make my way to the shower. I have breakfast and get to the studio a half hour before class to do exercises and get my pointe shoes on. After class I have rehearsals anywhere between 12 and 7. This is our rehearsal period schedule. After that, I usually spend the rest of the day vegging out.

You can ask six famous people to dinner - who would you invite ?
Wes Anderson, Zoe Deschanel, Tim Burton and Jack Skellington, George Balanchine, Sophie Calle.
And Maybe Monique L'huilier could dress us.....

What would surprise people about you ?
I play poker?

Who inspired you to dance ?
I guess my mom was the first person to inspire me to dance. Allegra Kent and Suzanne Farrell were big inspirations for me when I was at SAB. I also watched the New York City Ballet perform Balanchine's choreography every night while I was a student at SAB and seeing his work made me want to dance even more. It still makes me feel excited about dancing today.

What is your best piece of advice ?
Be yourself and go with your gut.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I usually eat Macaroni and Cheese about 2 hours before a show. That probably sounds funny, but I can't dance when I feel hungry and the carbs give me a little extra energy! Afterwards I do my make-up and hair, and leave about a half hour to warm-up.

Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Probably Square Dance. At the time, I felt like it was a role I wouldn't have necessarily been chosen first for, so it felt like an opportunity to show that I could do something technically demanding.

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
Something involving puffy sleeves, mixed patterns, an extreme excess of tulle, and maybe some pockets...

What do you look for in a dance partner ?
It's always nice when your partner is as invested and passionate as you are in working together to make a piece really good. I like when my partner and I are on the same page about what we are trying to accomplish. Having the same understanding of a piece is key. If you have different ideas about what a piece is about or the feeling it has, it's not going to be good. I certainly don't mind dancing with a really good partner either. I like being able to trust my partner completely so I can lose myself on stage and take risks. It helps to be with someone you can laugh with too.

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?

A phrase I use far too often is ... ?
Did you eat all the cookies!?

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
On stage.


  1. A poker playing ballet dancer... Love her! I can imagine that dancing in the Acropolis in Athens must be a dancer's dream.

  2. I would have dinner with Zooey Deschanel too :) Great interview!

  3. I just love her first answer - and how wonderful to have Monday's off!
    Janie says her mother inspired her to dance. I may appear ignorant but was her mother a dancer too?
    If I could advise Janie of one thing I would definitely say avoid 'the phrase that she claims to be using much too often.'

    Little extra note: Thanks for your visit and I'm pleased you found the skin interesting - I have never seen a picture of it displayed this way before - not even in National Geographic so I was like a child in a sweet shop with such a new aspect of it.

    I noticed on one of Channel 4's programmes that they claimed ballet was now being used by quite a few 'stars' as a keep fit regime. I think that they mentioned SJP as being one advocate. As they also said it required movement and exercise in every muscle group perhaps it's time that it was introduced nationally in schools.

  4. Another wonderful dancer!

  5. Janie is one of my favorites. She has a great look to her. I am also fascinated about her struggle to remain in ballet in the face of genetic health issues.

    I always knew that Macaroni and Cheese was secret to extended energy. :)

  6. Fabulous interview and glorious images!

    Art by Karena

  7. I seriously seriously LOVE your blog

    i always wanted to take ballet and i finally got the courage to after my divorce, i joined an adult ballet class with my sister and i've never loved life so much!


  8. Thank you for this article. I remember Janie's cameo in "Center Stage." I started ballet as a young adult and absolutely love it (a semester in college, then took it up again at 25). I wish that I would have started as a youngster, as I can't think of any better career! (Well, I suppose an opera singer would be equally wonderful.) The more I learn about it, the more I love it.

  9. Wow, that was a great article. I love ballet and I hate my parents for never having sent me to a ballet school when I was younger..
    the picture of the cupcakes is so cute :)

  10. fabulous interview, I loved reading about her idea for a costume design!

  11. Wow! Janie's Spring season alone sounds so intense. I'm not surprised that she's dead asleep on Monday mornings - I would be too!! :)

  12. after reading this all i can think about is a big bowl of mac and cheese, yum!

  13. Great Interview! I loved reading it! Thank you!

  14. Very enjoyable! Now I've got to see her dance!! I live so far away from NYCB and miss it so much. Such articles keep me in touch. Also love the photography!

  15. Janie's comment about partners made me recall (with great pleasure) the two times I saw her and Damian Woetzel dance "Afternoon of a Faun." So moving!

  16. Nice. Thank you.

  17. Andrea Paris-Gutierrez7 May 2010 at 06:26

    Great interview and the pics are stunning.

  18. Fantastic interview! I adore her!

  19. So happy to see this interview. I love Janie!! Not only is she gorgeous, but also really inspiring.


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