Friday, 25 June 2010

Madison Keesler interviewed for 'Cupcakes & Conversation with ...'

cupcakes courtesy of Primrose Bakery, supporters of BALLET NEWS

Cupcakes & Conversation with Madison Keesler, Corp de Ballet, San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Swan Lake
Photograph : Erik Tomasson

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
For the most part, Monday is San Francisco Ballet's one free day so if I'm not in bed sleeping chances are my motivation to get up is a massage appointment.

What are you looking forward to dancing this year?
We just ended a wonderful 2010 Season and there are a lot of things I'm looking forward to in the 2011 Season. Even though it will be my third year in a row performing it, I am very much looking forward to John Neumeier's The Little Mermaid. I feel very passionate about John's work and I'm happy to know that more and more of his full works are being performed in the States. In addition, I am looking forward to the large diversity that this company always offers. While I won't know casting for next season until we start back in July I am looking forward to at least watching and hopefully participating in Giselle, Balanchine's Coppélia, Artifact Suite, Wayne McGregor's Chroma, and Kenneth Macmillan's Winter Dreams.

Madison in Cinderella's Ball by Alan Hineline
Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, April 2006
Photograph :  Rosalie O'Connor

Who would you most like to dance with and what would you dance?
There are many men in the ballet world I would be honored to dance with. I have one person in mind that I would love to do Romeo and Juliet with now and John Neumeier's Lady of Camellias, when we are older.

If you could dance anywhere in the world , where would you dance?
I want to dance everywhere and experience everything - San Francisco, Hamburg, Berlin, London, Paris, Amsterdam, New York, Japan...the list goes on and on.

Madison in 2008 with Hamburg Ballet in rehearsal for La Sylphide
Photograph :  Kiran West

How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
I am always looking for better shoes and better break-in techniques but I currently I wear Freed classics, with a lot of personal specs, and "bell" is my maker. I darn the tips, I cut the inside shank so it bends to my arch, and then on the outside I cut a small strip out of the shoe's sole on a diagonal to give it that extra flexibility right where I need it. I cut the outside on a diagonal towards my little toe because it helps the shoe not sickle as much.

What is your daily routine at the moment?
As I said earlier, our season just ended so my routine is a little out of whack at the moment. Usually I would get up, do my floor barre, class, rehearsals, then performance. Since I have been off I've been giving myself a little bit of relaxation time. My summer plans are still not completely organized but I will definitely be continuing class and training in one place or another.

Photograph :  Oliver Endahl

You can ask six famous people to dinner - who would you invite?
Gandhi, Leonardo Da Vinci, Eckhart Tolle, Audrey Hepburn, Sylvie Guillem, and John Neumeier.

What would surprise people about you?
Hmm...I don't feel that I'm much of a surprise to be honest; I am what I am.

Who inspired you to dance?
My mother, Juliet Kent, and the Paris Opera Ballet's video of Romeo and Juliet with Manuel Legris and Monique Loudieres were some of my earliest inspirations and continue to inspire me today.

Photograph :  Oliver Endahl

What is your best piece of advice?
Live for this moment because it is all that we ever truly have.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
My preparations will vary greatly depending on the show and the part. Usually you can either find me blasting music in my dressing room while getting ready or doing floor barre backstage. I find that my best performances happen when I am calm and present.

Photograph :  Oliver Endahl

Which role has tested you the most & how?
I have been so blessed with opportunities since becoming a professional dancer and every single piece I've learned, in Hamburg Ballet as well as San Francisco Ballet, has given me something and I've learned so much within these last two years. My wonderful training at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) also allowed me to have countless performing opportunities which greatly shaped how I am as a performer today. One role that tested me the most was Aurora in CPYB's full production of The Sleeping Beauty. To carry an entire ballet at 16 was not easy and it taught me just how far I was capable of pushing myself, as well as how much further I had to go. There is no such thing as perfection in the ballet world, especially for me, and every day I try to work and keep improving as much as possible.

Photograph : Oliver Endahl

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
I can't say I have thought much about this in the past, but the first thing that comes to my mind would be a long romantic tutu - a simple yet beautifully jewelled bodice with a long flowing tutu to elongate the legs.

What do you look for in a dance partner?
I think most female dancers would agree that a partner who is well trained in partnering technique is a must. Partnering, just like anything else in ballet, must be learned correctly in order to be successful. In addition to that you must have some sort of connection with that partner while the two of you dance together; without that there is no point, you might as well just dance alone.

What is your favourite quote?
This is a tough one for me to answer because I have so many favourite quotes! I could go on and on but for the sake of this interview I will pick one of my favourite ballet related quotes -

"Movement does not exist outside of the human body. To become a true dancer means to bring to ideal balance the physical impossibilities of your stubborn imperfect body with the possibilities of your soul. Which, as you move through life is continually renewing itself and demanding new expression."
- Natalia Makarova
Photograph :  Oliver Endahl

Do you have a 'signature step' - one that comes naturally to you?

A phrase I use far too often is...?
I didn't know this until I asked someone but apparently the answer to this question is - "Why is all of this confusing me so much?", "No, just kidding", and "I don't know". Hmm, I'm going to have to be more aware of those...

Photograph :  Oliver Endahl

What's been your best on-stage moment so far?
To be completely honest, I have had so many wonderful moments but none that I would be able to define as my "best on-stage moment". I will let you know when that comes around.

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?
Well you definitely cannot call them skills but I love singing and acting. I have a secret wish of creating a CD, as well as starring in a movie that has a purpose and a good message.

Photograph :  Oliver Endahl

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
I have so many goals for my life, both short and long term, but I have no idea where I will be in a year from now. I am going to let life take me where I am supposed to go, continue working hard, and enjoy every moment of what I do.


  1. She is gorgeous! These photos are stunning and I would like to know more about cutting (the shank?) on a diagonal. I've never heard of that before. I love the photo of her on those steps and I would love to watch the Little Mermaid. SF's not too far from my home so maybe I will!

  2. Such a great interveiw!! The photos are gorgeous.

  3. Wonderful post great interview
    Love the pictures they are stunning!

    The cupcakes look yummy

  4. Thank you for a wonderful interview with a beautiful ballerina...and lady! The photos are all breathtaking and very inspiring. I'm going to forward this to my 15 year old daughter who is at Bossov Ballet dancing this summer. Have a great weekend!

  5. oh yes this dancer is beautiful and stunning and thanks for keeping us updated on the world of ballet .

  6. I just love the photos and your posts are so very interesting, thank you.

  7. It's so funny, I really enjoy your blog, but I especially come running whenever I see the cupcakes. I'm pretty sure I'd go all the way to London to enjoy one of those beautiful cupcakes :)

    I really love the pictures in this post, especially the ones with the flowing tutus. The picture of her leaping is my favorite. I would love to take my 4 year old to see The Little Mermaid. It would take her a bit to understand that it's different from the Disney story she's used to, but she would LOVE the dancing.

  8. Another gorgeous post and interview, darling!

    Happy weekend!


  9. I'm from England and did the CPYB summer school several years ago. We saw the school's end of year show and she was dancing. She was absolutely beautiful and seemed like such a nice person. I wish her the best of luck for the future.

  10. "I cut the inside shank so it bends to my arch, and then on the outside I cut a small strip out of the shoe's sole on a diagonal to give it that extra flexibility right where I need it."

    Patricia Barker did exactly this to the sole of my left point shoe last week while muttering "I am always telling pointe shoemakers they put too much material back here." I cannot tell you what a difference that slice in the sole made for me. I spent that night attempting to do the same thing to my right pointe shoe so I could dance in them the next day.

  11. lovely pics and yummy looking cupcakes!
    hope you are having a great sunny weekend ♥

  12. Thank you very much for this wonderful interview that tells us vividly about this lovely ballerina. Hope Madison is having a great season off!

  13. Elise, sorry to post this here, I tried to send you an email but it would not deliver, please email me:, re your question about journal. Have a great weekend. Sandi

  14. Happy weekend Elise! Lovely interview! Madison is so gorgeous, and those photos are just stunning! xo Paulette

  15. Wonderful interview, and beautiful photographs!

  16. Hello,there:-)*The wonderful blog Friend from ''Ballet News''!

    Thank you for visiting me and for you kindnest words about my blog!

    I am absolutely a big fan of the Ballet:-)*
    That's realy true!
    As a little girl(6-7 years.You know,little russian girl and the ballet...!) I dreamed to be a great ballet dancer...and I dead it to my 13 years old...
    The ballet is one of my biggest passion still!

    I like you blog very much,it's so good that you can reading about all beautiful ballet dancers and ballet news from the whole world!!!-)*


  17. Great post!She is so beautiful.


  18. I love these pictures! They are so beautiful. A very nice interview too!

  19. How lovely! She is beautiful and i wish her the best of luck in the future!

  20. I love those interviews...Madison is so beautiful, and those photos are so stunning:)
    Have a wonderful Monday,my dear and see you soon:)

  21. So inspirational as always! I just love those images... something so magical about ballet :)


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