Dance Theatre of Harlem's Michaela DePrince is all too familiar with the paradox of making an artform as difficult as ballet look effortless. It wasn't until she received a scholarship to American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and began studying under Franco De Vita that DePrince finally began to grasp exactly what "less is more" means.
"Franco likes to joke that dancers should be lazy. You're working less if you just balance and relax, instead of gripping everything. I had thought that ballet should be hard--you should be shaking, you should show the audience that it's hard! Once, for a performance, after already taking class, I made myself do another complete warm-up and listen to the music over and over and over again. And the performance didn't go well. Now I've learned to just lie down and relax before I perform. I've never had so much fun, and my dancing is the best it's ever been. I feel like I finally understand myself and my body now, and I realize that less is more."
DePrince will perform with Dance Theatre of Harlem on May 12 in Baltimore and May 18 in Philadelphia. www.dancetheatreofharlem.org
Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy of Dance Theatre of Harlem