Via @saramearns on Instagram

Sara Mearns on Preparing For Her New Role in Matthew Bourne's "The Red Shoes"

Matthew Bourne's dramatic ballet The Red Shoes, which earned rave reviews in England last year, is heading stateside this month. Based on the Academy Award–winning 1948 movie of the same name, the show follows the passionate aspiring ballerina Victoria Page as she tries to dance her way to the top, but ultimately must choose between her love of dance and the love of her life. Joining Bourne's company, New Adventures, as guest artists are New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns, who will perform the role of Victoria for select performances at New York City Center; and American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes, who will tour with the company, dancing the role of Julian Craster in select cities. DS chatted with Mearns to see what the rehearsal process has been like, and how it's been different from preparing for a typical NYCB season.


What do you identify with most in Victoria?

Sara Mearns: She's dying to succeed. Everybody has this push inside of them where you want to make it to the top, you want to be in the front. I'm still always pushing my boundaries and going out of my comfort zone.

What kind of character research did you do?

It was a lot of watching old movies and studying that generation of actresses. I watched the film a lot. Moira Shearer, who played Victoria, paid so much attention to detail in her acting. I wanted to stay true to the character she portrayed in the movie, but also have my take on it.

What's been the most challenging part of the process?

In this show I'm in character shoes, I'm barefoot, I'm in flat shoes, and I'm in pointe shoes. I perform many forms of dance, which I don't get to do a lot, and that's fun for me. It was a lot of work, though. I'm pretty stable in a pointe shoe, but sometimes when I put a character shoe on I can't even walk.

What's it been like working with New Adventures?

I got to work with the whole company onstage in Liverpool, and I was so intimidated by the dancers. But they couldn't have been nicer. They acted like I was already part of the family, which let me relax and really focus on what I needed to do.

What are you most excited about?

I'm very excited to perform at City Center again. It's kind of like my second home in NYC. I'm also excited for everyone to see another side of myself. And to just be in that character. Every time I watch the show, I'm in tears at the end. I just can't wait to be in that moment onstage with everybody.

A version of this story appeared in the October 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "A Film Classic, Reimagined."

Latest Posts


Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search