by Nancy Turano
WHAT YEAR DID YOU START AT NJDTE?
I became a member of NJDTE in September of 1969, which was named NJDTG. I was only 8 years old and did not fully understand the opportunity I was receiving. My first Nutcracker as the Teddy Bear was my very first-time dancing on a stage and I remember being completely mesmerized with the lights, the costumes, the applause of the audience and the energy of backstage. I was hooked!
(1975 Butterfly in Waltz of Flowers)
CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR HISTORY WITH NJDTE.
From student, Guest Artist, Teacher, Board, Stage Manager and any details you would like to mention? Corvino any other people. As a student with NJDTE, and a member of the company, I was very fortunate to have danced many challenging and exciting roles in Nutcracker and in the spring productions. The high-quality of the technical training I received, first from Alfredo Corvino and then later from his daughter Andra Corvino, was paramount to establishing a solid foundation for all my future training. Even when I was a full-time scholarship student at the School of American Ballet, I always returned to NJDTE to receive personal coaching and to ground my technique. Growing up with the Corvinos and NJDTE was foundational for me in my all aspects of my life.
Many years after having moved on from NJDTE, as a mother and ballet teacher at a local dance studio in Clark, NJ, I found myself back at NJDTE when my girls were old enough to audition and become members themselves. I was recruited right away to help as the Stage Manager and that began a twenty-year run of calling cues, learning about lighting, and participating in the Nutcracker and spring productions from a completely different perspective. I developed a great respect for all those folks dressed in black hiding in the wings of the backstage. They work hard!!!
I had been the stage manager for about 5-6 years when Nancy Turano also returned to NJDTE as the Artistic Director. Nancy and I grew up together as dancers in NJDTE, so she is the one who convinced me to get back on stage as a Guest Artist. I started performing the role of Frau Silberhaus in 1997 all while continuing as the Stage Manager. I used to waltz off the stage in full costume and my crew would meet me in the wings with my head set and I would begin calling cues immediately. It was crazy but I loved doing it!!!
It was also around this time that I joined the NJDTE Board. In this capacity, it was important to help the company evolve to the next level where high-quality training and performance opportunities could not only continue to be made available but to also expand the accessibility and frequency of this training by growing the company and school. Of course, through all this I enjoyed watching my own two girls grow up as dancers experiencing the gifts of dance through their NJDTE experiences!
WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ROLES?
I loved so many of the roles I danced throughout the years, each one providing different challenges, growth and rewards. My first big solo was that of the Toy Soldier Doll. I was only 11 but I realized that Mr. Corvino believed in me and had given me a very big part to perform. I remember practicing really hard on the timing and to make every movement very crisp and sharp. The next year I was Clara and that was really exciting. That was exactly 50 years ago! I was very comfortable dancing as Clara and loved that I had a lot of stage time. After Clara, I moved into senior level roles which I performed for many years. I liked getting stronger in each of these parts over the years and instead of getting nervous I would really enjoy dancing these parts. I loved dancing Snowflakes. I loved the music and used to challenge myself to count the rests in the music so I could enter precisely on the music. I had the first entrance in snow and my goal was to hit my entrance on stage at the same time as the first sound of the flute. Dancing the Butterfly, now Dewdrop, was special and I always loved that part. I remember the first time I made my entrance onto the stage and the audience broke into applause. I wasn’t expecting it and it threw me off for a second. But that became one of my favorite things about dancing that part. It’s fun to have the audience clap for you!
HOW HAS THE NJDTG/NJDTE MISSION IMPACTED YOUR LIFE?
The value of pre-professional training and access to master teachers, choreographers.
NJDTG/NJDTE has been a part of my life since I was eight years old. That’s over 50 years of my life. The advanced training and discipline taught through NJDTE spilled into all aspects of my life. I had a very successful career in the Information Technology field for over 35 years. It was the discipline, attention to detail, and creativity that I fostered through my training at NJDTE that enabled me to thrive in my IT profession. And because ballet was such an integral part of me, I always stayed involved in dance by either teaching, coaching, rehearsing, stage managing or performing.
One of my greatest joys was when both my daughters also danced with NJDTE. Watching them in class, rehearsals and on the stage was amazing. My daughter, Kristen Lim, and I both were accepted and studied at the School of American Ballet in Lincoln Center. This would not have been possible without the foundational base and solid technique we developed through our training and classes at NJDTE. The value of the pre-professional training and exposure to master teachers gained through NJDTE will follow you for a lifetime! I have the fondest memories and love for NJDTE.
WHY IS PERFORMING IN THIS SEASON’S NUTCRACKER WITH YOUR DAUGHTER AND GRANDAUGHTER MEANINGFUL FOR YOU.
Returning to the stage this year to perform is so special to me!!! I am absolutely ecstatic to be sharing the stage with my 4-year-old granddaughter, Sofia Assaad, and my older daughter, Kristen Lim. Three generations of our family on stage at the same time!!! This is truly a grandmother’s dream come true! And if that isn’t enough, I am honored and thrilled to be reunited with Rosemary Sabovick-Bleich and Joseph Fritz. Both brilliant and accomplished artists!!! The three of us have spent many years together dancing our roles in the Nutcracker Party Scene. Rosemary and I go back to the 1970’s with our years of dancing together in NJDTE’s Nutcracker. Dancing in this year’s performance of the Nutcracker is like coming home to family. Thank you, Nancy, for this special opportunity!!!