Chapman as Myrta in "Giselle." Photo by Angela Sterling.
With her serene stage presence and powerful, statuesque frame, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Maria Chapman embodies both grace and strength. The ballerina began studying dance intensively at Terpsichore Co., Ltd., in Atlanta, GA, and continued her training on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet in NYC. Chapman first came to PNB as an apprentice in 1995, joined the main company in 1996 and steadily climbed through the ranks, achieving the title of soloist in 2005 and principal in 2009. Though Seattle audiences know her for her vibrant performances of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, her work extends beyond the theater: In 1998 she helped create Second Stage, a PNB program that supports dancers transitioning into other careers. Check out Chapman performing this month in PNB’s “Love Stories” program. —Amy Smith
Chapman at age 12 in the Boston Ballet summer program. Photo courtesy Maria Chapman.
You are growing up so fast—slow down! You are in a wonderful phase of your life and it will be gone before you realize it. You have the skills you need to take care of yourself, but you don’t have to act like an adult yet. Don’t take yourself so seriously!
Realize that your friends are going through the same things you are. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about your feelings. You will all be friends for life, so you should begin supporting each other now.
Don’t be embarrassed about starting your intensive ballet training a little “late.” You will still make it! You don’t realize it now, but you actually started preparing for your ballet career before you knew it. Gymnastics, running track, playing the violin—these things gave you great tools. Use them. And keep running. It will help you get through that crazy growth spurt!
Whenever you’re frustrated, do something that makes you happy. Taking pleasure in ballet class—or even just homework—will make your problems easier to handle. You are going to dance for a long time, through many ups and downs; keeping a positive attitude will make a huge difference.
Be sweet to and confident in yourself. Know that just being you is enough. You don’t have to change anything!