New York City Ballet keeps UNCSA Dance alumna on her toes
Dancing for the New York City Ballet Company is right where UNCSA ballet alumna Claire Kretzschmar (HS ’10) belongs. She has a busy performance schedule ahead of her as a member of the New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet.
What dances will you be in this coming season with the NYC Ballet?
On Sept. 19 we’ll start with two weeks of “Swan Lake” performances. Later in the season, the company will premiere four new ballets and I will be in a new work by Troy Schumacher. I’ll also perform in a range of pieces, including Alexei Ratmansky’s “Odessa” and Justin Peck’s “The Times are Racing.” Outside of NYCB, I’ll be working with UNCSA Dance alumna Helen Simoneau (HS ’98, B.F.A.’02) on a new work for the NYU Center for Ballet and Arts.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
- My first performance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in NYC Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” One of my best friends, Silas Farley, was my partner and the process of working on that pas de deux was so special to us. So many of our family members and friends came to support us for our debut as well.
- Going on tours with the company—Japan and Paris stick out in my mind—and bonding with my friends while going on adventures in foreign places.
Why did you choose UNCSA?
I attended High School at UNCSA because of its commitment to academics and focus on the arts. I was at a point in my training where I wanted a little more intensity and the school offered many classes with a variety of teachers and styles (ballet, modern, Pilates, acting, improv). It was also a clear choice because I grew up in Winston-Salem, only 15 minutes away from the school.
Any fond memories of your time at UNCSA?
Yes, one of my most distinct memories is of watching the school perform Balanchine’s “Serenade.” When I was in the 9th grade, I remember going to Winter Dance on a Saturday night and being so entranced by the perfect pairing of movement to musicality in “Serenade.” I started listening to that music constantly at home. I realized that I not only longed to dance in “Serenade” one day, but also in other works by Balanchine, whose choreography was unlike any other ballet choreography that I had seen before. It was so exciting and it made me set my sights on NYCB.
What were some of the lessons you learned while at UNCSA?
UNCSA taught me a range of styles and gave me the opportunity to perform in and watch so many different pieces. I left the school with a foundational understanding of these styles, which I think has helped me to become a diverse dancer and perform in works that aren’t strictly ballet. The school also instilled in me a dedication to practice—today I’m always practicing my steps to fine tune my technique and artistry, even with the simplest steps.
Do you still keep in touch with friends and teachers?
I made many lasting friendships at UNCSA and I regularly stay in touch with them. We are constantly lifting each other up, regardless of where we are in our careers or lives. NYC also has a big UNCSA presence, and we occasionally reach out to each other with job possibilities. For example, Helen Simoneau was my Pilates teacher at school, and I will be working with her this fall on a new piece.
Any advice for current and future students of UNCSA?
Immerse yourself in all the art forms—not just your own. Your eyes will be opened in many ways, which is so important for a budding artist, and you’ll create lasting bonds with other students and teachers that will serve you well in your career.