Charlottesville Ballet’s “Meet the Artist” profile for February 2012.
This issue features guest choreographer Audrey Fenske– check out her interview below and enjoy!
Name: Audrey Katrina Fenske
Astrological Sign: A Sagittarius Tiger — double fire signs; youthful, generous, stubborn, and spontaneous.
Hometown: Chapel Hill/Durham, North Carolina
Role in C’ville Ballet: Guest Choreographer
Food: Born in Texas and from a family of Texans, so Tex-Mex, for sure! Thai food and sushi are a close second and third, though.
Color: Pink, yellow, and anything sparkly.
Book:Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and anything by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I love most classic literature, though. I also love any non-fiction books about the American Revolution/Early National Period, and lots of psychology books … I’m a nerd at heart. I’ve also recently become obsessed with The Hunger Games!
Movie:The Patriot (told you I was a nerd), Anchorman (most quotable movie ever!), Office Space, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Inglorious Basterds, Boondock Saints … I’m kind of all over the place in terms of movie taste.
Musician/Band: I love pretty much any music besides country. My favorite music depends on my mood — I can be in a Beatles mood on Tuesday, but then want to jam to Kanye West or Kid Cudi on Wednesday. I hold a very soft spot in my heart for Britney Spears, though — I won a contest and got to dance onstage with her last August!
Audrey with Britney Spears!
Quotation: I have three …
“Be like the bird that, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she has wings.” – Victor Hugo;
“… and those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” – Friedrich Nietzsche;
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
Spot in C’ville: I absolutely love the Downtown Mall! I wish I could transfer it down to North Carolina! It’s just so cute and pretty, and has so many unique stores. I’ve also loved Monticello ever since I was a kid, and I’m looking forward to visiting it again in the spring.
Audrey with company member Veronica Hart and Co-Director Emily Mott
Tell us about your dance background and training:
I started dance when I was 7, and I trained in pretty much everything when I was young — ballet, jazz, tap, modern, even a little Irish and Flamenco. I trained at Bounds Dance Studio and danced with Triangle Youth Ballet (where I now teach!) up until high school, when I moved up to Lynchburg to dance at Virginia School of the Arts for four years. While at VSA, I had the pleasure of dancing with company artist Veronica Hart and Co-Director Emily Mott.
Audrey with The Duke!
After I graduated, I went to Duke University to satiate my inner nerd academically, and to continue to receive stellar dance training. They created the Dance major while I was there, and I was the first Dance major to graduate in Duke history. I did several great summer intensives throughout the years with Houston Ballet, BalletMet, VSA, and Pilobolus.
As far as my choreography goes, I dabbled in it a bit at VSA, then honed my craft more at Duke. I’ve had lots of amazing opportunities thus far — I have had my choreography performed at the Regional High School Dance Festival, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, American College Dance Association, Regional Dance America: Southeast Regional Ballet Association (where I performed a pas de deux with current C’ville Ballet company member Devin Sweet), Duke University, and now at the Charlottesville Ballet! I’m currently on faculty at Triangle Youth Ballet in Chapel Hill. I perform and choreograph freelance, and I’m also performing with a modern company based out of North Carolina called Gaspard and Dancers.
What genres of dance do you enjoy?
Ballet is always and forever my favorite! Jazz is a close second — any class where I can shake my booty, switch leap, and fouette turn is going to make me almost too excited. I also love Latin ballroom dancing! Anything high energy that makes the audience smile is going to take me to my happy place, basically.
What kind of pointe shoe do you wear?
I usually wear Freed classics, although sometimes I buy Chacott Veronese to wear for rehearsals or classes just because they last a little longer, and I can save some money that way.
Audrey in Twyla Tharp's "8 Jelly Rolls"
Favorite dancers or role models?
Twyla Tharp! We performed Eight Jelly Rolls at Duke, and I performed Twyla’s solo … I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun in a dance performance. Her choreography is brilliant, challenging, funny, and just incredible.
I also really admire Alonzo King. I’ve had a chance to do a few workshops with him, and he is such an inspirational teacher and choreographer. As far as dancers go, I’m obsessed with Natalia Osipova — she’s got such a fierce personality onstage, and I share her penchant for constantly trying to out-jump all the male dancers! Daniil Simkin is probably my favorite male dancer — ridiculous ability, and he’s absolutely adorable to boot!
Do you have a favorite ballet:
Etudes is one of my favorites — I love the music, and the way that the progression of the entire ballet is modeled after a ballet class … so cool! I love classic pas de deuxs — Don Q, Black Swan, Le Corsaire. A well-done coda at the end of a pas is absolutely phenomenal. The Romeo and Juliet pas de deux always brings me to tears, as well as lots of parts of Giselle. Outside of the realm of traditional ballet, I love Twyla, Mark Morris, Matthew Bourne, and pretty much anything in the repertory of Nederlands Dans Theatre.
Audrey with company member Devin Sweet
What’s your favorite ballet/dance step:
Two words — petite allegro! Jumping and beats have always been my forte as a dancer, and it’s always the part of class I am dying to get to, even as I’m doing plies! Grand allegro is a blast too. I love the feeling of being suspended in the air, so whenever it’s possible, I do jump combinations with male dancers (or take a full mens’ class if it’s available!) so I can try to out-jump them. I’ve been trying to perfect a few typical mens’ jumps lately, such as double tours and 540’s … they are so much fun! And who says only the men can do them?
Tell us, why do you dance?:
The relentless pursuit of mastery of an established, yet constantly evolving art form. That might seem a little cold, but it is true. I love the feeling of standing at barre in first position, prepared to embark on a series of combinations that I have done in some form or another for the past seventeen years of my life, yet knowing that I will always have room for improvement in the execution of the art form. It never becomes stale or boring to me; dance (ballet, in particular) has always been a constant in my life, and it is the place where I feel both most challenged and most comfortable.
What other jobs/activities/academic pursuits are you involved in?
I wear a lot of hats in North Carolina … besides being full-time faculty at Triangle Youth Ballet, I’m also the Registrar and the Director of Community Outreach for TYB. Part of my duties include organizing two successful, free community outreach shows of our Nutcracker for special needs groups in Chapel Hill and Durham. I teach for Arts in Action, the NC chapter of Jacques d’Amboise’s National Dance Institute. I’m also a Zumba instructor! Currently trying to add seamstress to my ability list — Santa brought me a sewing machine for Christmas, and I am looking forward to conquering my fear of it very soon!
What other talents or passions do you have?
Humor is something that is very important to me, so my life usually revolves around anything that makes people smile or laugh. I love to share humorous quotes or insights on Facebook, squelch bad days with good jokes, and I play some pretty fantastic practical jokes and pranks on my friends and coworkers. Having a good sense of humor has gotten me through some of life’s greatest struggles, and it has taught me to find the silver lining in any cloud.
Free time? I don’t have much of it, but what free time I do have, I love exploring Pinterest and StumbleUpon on the Internet. I’m also a bit of a video game nerd — Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers, and Tekken are all favorites, and I love but am notoriously terrible at Call of Duty. I also love the challenges and fruitful results of cooking and baking.
Anything else you’d like to express:
I am so thankful to work with the bright, talented dancers of Charlottesville Ballet! The company’s mission and voice is a breath of fresh air in the dance world, and I consider myself truly blessed to have the opportunity to work here in Charlottesville. Please continue to support Charlottesville Ballet by attending one of their upcoming performances — I am sure I will see you there!