Welcome back to Pointe of View. For today’s post, I’m excited to sit down with one of our company dancers Patricia Bianco. She has been with the Alabama Ballet for 8 seasons and you’ve seen her on stage and roles such as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Sugarplum Fairy in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and many more. Join me as we chat with Tricia about her background in training and get to know her and her point of view.
Ashlyn: Hi Tricia, thanks for joining me today. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy rehearsal schedule to sit down with me.
Tricia: Hi how are you?
Ashlyn: I’m doing well, thank you. So let’s start by giving everyone a brief background about your training and how you came to be with the Alabama Ballet.
Tricia: I grew up in a small suburb in Helena, Alabama. I went and graduated from Pelham High School and I trained at a dance studio in Hoover called Alabama Dance Academy. While I was there I received scholarships for the summer to Dance Theater of Harlem, Boston Ballet and Alabama Ballet and that’s how I came in contact with Alabama Ballet. When I was 17, I was attending the summer program and Tracy asked me if I wanted to be an apprentice here. So that is how I became to be an apprentice in 2012.
Ashlyn: Awesome. So then you got promoted to company member and then the rest is history?
Ashlyn: On any given day what could someone find in your dance bag?
Tricia: Well, pointe shoes of course and I have extra warm-ups for between the rehearsals to keep my muscles warm. Some of my favorite warm-ups are my bloch dance booties. I got these from my boyfriend. It’s really important to keep your feet warm between rehearsals so you can ward off any injuries.
Ashlyn: Do you have any special tricks that you like to do when breaking in a new pair of pointe shoes?
Tricia: I 3/4 my shank and that really helps make the line in my foot look nice and then I also darn my pointe shoes depending on what role that I’m doing.
Ashlyn: What does a day in the life of a professional dancer look like?
Tricia: So we come in at 10 AM and we have class from 10-12 and from 12-5 PM we have rehearsals for whatever production we’re working on next.
Ashlyn: Do you have any favorite snacks or anything that you like to keep with you throughout the rehearsal day or even outside of rehearsal to keep you fueled?
Tricia: Yeah I really like kombucha. I drink kombucha a lot. It’s really good for you to get your probiotics and keep your gut feeling good and then I always keep a banana in my bag and I use some other healthy snacks like roasted chickpeas or something like that.
Ashlyn: What is one of the favorite roles you’ve ever performed?
Tricia: I think my favorite role that I’ve been able to perform was probably Odette and Odile. That was one of my first leading roles that I got to perform here in a full-length ballet and I really love to explore each of the different characters because it’s played by one ballerina. I enjoyed getting to work with the softness of the white swan because I don’t really, I’m shorter, so I don’t really get to perform those roles very often. So it was really nice to explore the gentle softness of Odette.
Ashlyn: What about the hardest role you’ve ever performed?
Tricia: I would probably say, it was Swan Lake as well. It was really hard switching the characters from the sharpness, from Odile to the softness of Odette and it’s so long.
Ashlyn: Is there a dream role that you would like to perform one day that you’ve never gotten to do before?
Tricia: Yes. I would love to perform Kitri in the full-length Don Quixote. I’ve done guestings with Kitri and It’s always been amazing. I just love her character, her fiery spirit and her love of life and even the humor and comedy within the ballet.
Ashlyn: Do you have any special pre-show rituals or anything that you like to do before you go on stage when you’re in the theater?
Tricia: I always have coffee before and on the way to the theater I like to listen to the music in the car and go over notes that I’ve been given and just go over the choreography. So once I’m on stage I don’t even have to think about that. I could just think about enjoying myself and the character and that kind of thing.
Ashlyn: What about any nerves? Do you get nervous before a show? And if you do how do you channel those?
Tricia: I don’t really get so nervous. It’s more of like excitement because I love being on stage that’s where I’m at home. Before the shows though I really like to just talk with my friends, stay in check and they always keep me calm.
Ashlyn: So you said you like to listen to the music for the show in your car like you’re jamming on the way to the theater, aside from Tchaikovsky or whatever role you’re doing, are there any other artists or groups on your playlist right now that you like to listen to?
Tricia: Yeah. I listen to a variety of music actually. I love popular music, rap. I really love Abba and I listen to them a lot and then new music as well. I love Ariana Grande and Janelle Monae, too.
Ashlyn: So aside from being a professional dancer in the company, you are also a teacher not only here at the Alabama Ballet School but other studios around the Birmingham area. Talk a little bit more about what it’s like to be an instructor and a teacher for the younger generation.
Tricia: I’m very grateful that I get to educate the younger generation because they’re going to be the next dancers of Alabama Ballet. The next dances of wherever and I love it. I love being a teacher because it’s so gratifying. When you’ve been giving a certain correction to a student over and over and over again and you see it finally click in their brain and then they execute the step correctly. You can see how proud of themselves they are. And then, of course, I’m so proud of them but it’s just gratifying seeing that, that process of them furthering their dance technique.
Ashlyn: Well, thank you so much for joining me and letting everyone learn a little bit more about you. Everyone be sure and subscribe to our podcast on Spotify to be notified when the next episode comes out. Thank you for joining us and until next time, this is Pointe of View.