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An Interview with Kirsten Heinrich, former student at the San Diego Ballet Summer Study Program, and current professional dancer

by Robert Abrams
February 28, 2009
San Diego, CA
San Diego Ballet
Robert Abrams: How and why did you start dancing?

Kirsten Heinrich: I started a long time ago. My parents took me to a studio.

RA: What styles of dance do you do?

KH: Basically now I focus on Modern, and more so on Classical Ballet the past couple of years.

RA: Where have you studied dance?

KH: I have been performing professionally for the past 7 years. A lot of my training came from working with individual teachers. I didn't go to one particular school. Some of the companies that I have worked with include: Tennessee Dance Theatre, Philadanco II, and the San Diego Ballet.

RA: When did you participate in the San Diego Ballet summer study program?

KH: Summer of 2005.

RA: How old were you when you participated in the San Diego Ballet summer study program?

KH: I was 25 years old then.

RA: What did you like about the San Diego Ballet summer study program?

KH: I did things in the reverse. I started as a professional modern dancer. Then I decided to work on classical ballet. They gave me an opportunity to participate in the summer program, and then I apprenticed with their company. They gave me the freedom and the opportunity as a modern dancer to work on ballet in a professional venue.

RA: How could the San Diego Ballet summer study program be improved?

KH: I don't think that it could be. It was a professional intensive. They ran it like a company day: class in the morning, then work on variation and/or rehearsal. It was two weeks. I can't find any fault in that.

RA: How does the San Diego Ballet summer study program compare to other dance classes you have taken?

KH: The ballet mistress from San Diego Ballet is from Paris Opera and she taught quite a few of the classes then and the company classes now. When you are dealing with someone on that level, she is a good teacher. I have been fortunate in my journey in the dance world to have a lot of good teachers come across my path. San Diego Ballet teachers are on par.

RA: What advice would you give to other students thinking about taking a summer study program in dance?

KH: I do teach too. Usually what I would advise is that if they are looking in the ballet realm, or even modern, go to a summer program where you can be looked at for a company position. That's what it is all about, even if they are not ready for a company right now. It helps for the future.

RA: Who in the dance world inspires you and why?

KH: I guess who inspires me right now would be a couple of my teachers, but on a grand scale, Helgi Tomasson from San Francisco Ballet: I am intrigued by what he has to say and what people are saying about him. As a director, I think he is looking for dancers who have something to offer, looking from the inside out. I don't have direct experience with him, but that is what I have heard. In this day and age, there are a lot of great technicians, but I think it is really important to look at the artistry.

RA: What dance projects, shows or studies are you working on now?

KH: One is with a touring company. I perform on stilts. The Living Garden. I am doing shows in Las Vegas next week for them. The company director hired ballet dancers.

I am in transition. I am working with a Russian family. I am freelancing. I have done a lot of choreography. I won a competition and got to perform at the Kodak Theatre. I have entered a lot of choreography competitions. I am putting a lot of pokers in the fire to get my choreography and dancing out there.

RA: What do you hope to accomplish in dance in the future? What would be your dream project?

KH: I would either like to work in Europe, or the US, with a contemporary ballet company of a certain stature, and/or work for Cirque du Soleil.

RA: Is there anything else you would like to add?

KH: One thing that is unique and special about San Diego Ballet: they give people opportunities that people wouldn't necessarily otherwise have. I don't know if I would be where I am today if they hadn't given me this opportunity. It was important for me, because I needed to do some exploration. It is a rare and special place that will allow you to do that, to move from Modern to Ballet.



Kirsten Heinrich can be contacted at heinrich32@hotmail.com .
Kirsten Heinrich

Kirsten Heinrich

Photo © & courtesy of Josue Pena


Kirsten Heinrich performs as a guest artist in The Nutcracker for Encinitas Ballet Academy

Kirsten Heinrich performs as a guest artist in The Nutcracker for Encinitas Ballet Academy

Photo © & courtesy of Micaela Malmi


Kirsten Heinrich performs as a guest artist in The Nutcracker for Encinitas Ballet Academy

Kirsten Heinrich performs as a guest artist in The Nutcracker for Encinitas Ballet Academy

Photo © & courtesy of Micaela Malmi


Kirsten Heinrich lifted by her partner, Raymon Ashley, as guest artists in The Nutcracker for Black Mountain Dance Centre.

Kirsten Heinrich lifted by her partner, Raymon Ashley, as guest artists in The Nutcracker for Black Mountain Dance Centre.

Photo © & courtesy of Mr. Hilleary


Kirsten Heinrich

Kirsten Heinrich

Photo © & courtesy of James Grant Caradine

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