Ballerina Kirsten Evans talks with principal dancer Patricia Delgado at Vail Dance Festival.
Covering the Vail Dance Festival granted me the gift of meeting so many beautiful humans, but perhaps none as sweet and humble as Miss Patricia Delgado. It was such a pleasure chatting with Patricia, catching up on her decision to leave Miami City Ballet after 18 years, dealing with transition, and opening up to new opportunities.
Kirsten Evans: I feel so lucky to be here for your first season at the Vail Dance Festival! How did you get involved?
Patricia: In 2009, Miami City Ballet came to Vail. I had my first surgery about 9 months before they came and I remember post-surgery I went to see a physical therapist to help me recover. I said to her, “The company is going to Vail and I am going to perform there, so we have to get ready for that”, and she said, “No, I get to decide when you perform.” [laughs] I had always heard about Vail and I’m such a Damien [Woetzel, VDF Artistic Director] fan of his dancing and just what he is doing with the art form- so I really wanted to come.
I knew halfway through the recovery that I wasn’t going to make it, it just wasn’t on the timeline. I wasn’t even far enough along that I could come and support. I was still struggling. So it just kind of lingered as this missed opportunity. I tried to make peace with it, like maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. And then when I made the decision to leave Miami City Ballet…
K: Yes- you’ve had a lot of life changes recently! You were sort of raised at Miami City Ballet, training in the school and performing with the company for 18 years. How did you come to your recent decision to leave Miami for New York, and what has it been like dealing with that change?
P: It was a long year of emotional challenges, trying to figure out how to get the courage to do it. When it’s all you’ve know your whole life, it’s a scary step. I remember it was in the new year when I finally felt that leaving was the right thing to do. I had a great conversation with Lourdes Lopez, our director. She was so encouraging, assuring me that doors would open. Two days later, I got an email from Damian inviting me to the Vail Dance Festival. I cried because it felt like a sign that it was meant to be, and bigger things were happening for me.
K: Aw, and this is the start of it!
P: Exactly. And that’s what Damian said. He felt that it was the perfect opportunity to present me with this transition. It’s very special for me to be here.
K: Beautiful. Why do you feel the Vail Dance Festival is important?
P: Well first of all, bringing all of these dancers from so many different companies together in this space – we all admire each other from afar, but we’re all so busy. You can’t fly around to London and New York to see shows, and even if you did it would be a performance and then you’d go back to your hotel. Working in class with these dancers and collaborating with them on different new pieces is so inspiring. It’s an exchange of experiences and art. I think as dancers we can get so caught up on our own focus and what we’re trying to do to improve ourselves, and we forget how much you can get inspired by the people around you.
Also, new work. Live music. Studio space! It’s so hard for choreographers to make art. It’s not like a painter who needs just a canvas, paint and a brush. Choreographers need a marley, a sprung floor, live music to bring it out. There’s so much of that here, it’s an incubator to make new work.
Then there’s the nature element. We’re always stuck in a theater, but here we’re in the mountains.
K: It is so refreshing here. What are you performing the the festival?
P: I’m doing a pas de deux from Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit, it’s called “Year of Our Lord”. It’s sort of a meditative adagio. The pas de deux comes out of no where because the rest of the ballet is very high energy and quick, so it’s kind of the heart of the ballet. This space is perfect for it because it’s meant to be a 360 degree view, circling around your partner. So for the dancers, having pine trees and mountains in the background and behind the audience, it feels very circular. That adds so much magic to the pas de deux.
For the NOW: Premieres Celebrating Women Choreographers, I’m doing a piece with Lauren Lovette.
K: Oooh, with her or by her?
P: With her and by her.
My eyes light up.
P: I know. So there are four ladies in it and she’s one of them. It’s us and Devon [Teuscher] and Miriam [Miller]. It’s been so fun working with them. We go from girl talk to working to girl chat again. [laughs] What I like the most is that Lauren chose a spoken word poet to be our inspiration and our music, in a way. In the end, it turns out the poet will be here to perform live with us, along with a live violinist. So special.
It’s all coming together here. We worked on it a little bit in New York, but it’s really all gelling here. It feel so good to be part of something new and exploring new choreography.
K: Very cool. Will you be performing anything else?
P: On my ride from the airport to Vail, I rode with the another choreographer, Pam Tanowitz. We had met before through mutual friends but had never really gotten to know each other. Halfway through the ride she was like, “Hey, can I do a solo on you?” And I was like, “Ummm, yeah! Sounds good!” [laughs]
K: Ha! Amazing. So how are you doing with the lack of oxygen up here?
P: I’m okay! People warned me and told me to make sure and drink a lot of water. I was nervous because I have asthma, so I brought my little inhaler just in case. But any discomfort doesn’t matter. You just look around and it’s so beautiful here, it’s all worth it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Patricia!