Jennifer Grace’s name says it all. With aspirations of becoming a ballet dancer ever since she was a child, her years of training and dedication to her craft have finally paid off. Now, with eight years under her belt as a professional ballerina, Grace continues to make her mark in the performing arts world—after spending seven seasons in Oklahoma at the Tulsa Ballet before accepting a coveted position at the Colorado Ballet in 2020. We thought it was fitting to profile Jennifer Grace this issue as the Colorado Ballet ramps up for its holiday performance schedule. At the time of this interview, she was preparing for the lead role in the production, Giselle, which ran through October.
What do you love most about being a professional ballet dancer?
“I would have to say that the thing I love most about my career is having the ability to make people feel. When you are on stage you can feel the collective mood of the audience. You are sending your energy out to them and they in turn return the energy. I love when I can tell the audience is right there in the story with me.”
Have you always wanted to become a performer on stage?
“As a child, I had a few ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up. The main ones that stayed consistently [with me] were performing on Broadway, becoming a Ballerina, and dancing in Cirque du Soleil. Each year that passed I kept drifting towards ballet more and more.”
What performance are you currently preparing for to start the season at the Colorado Ballet?
“Colorado Ballet is in its final week of preparation for Giselle. I personally am performing both the title role, Giselle and her counterpart, Myrta who is the Queen of the Willies. This is especially challenging and enjoyable for me because I get to alternate between playing a character that is young, sweet, and innocent—and a ghost that has been around as long as time itself, who becomes vindictive and bitter.”
Tell us a little bit about your training.
“Most of the time we (the dancers) have three to four weeks to prepare for a show where we rehearse each day. By the time the shows actually come around, our muscles know the dances in and out and we can focus on the new aspects like scenery and lighting. Pre-show I [also] take company classes on stage to warm up my muscles and adjust to the space we have, then I take approximately 45 minutes to do my hair and makeup. Once that is done, I can get into costume. Honestly, once I am in costume, it is almost as if the character I am about to portray settles over me and I am that person. I get to tell their story and that in and of itself gives me all I need to get into the proper headspace to perform.”
What is your advice for someone who wants to follow in your shoes one day?
“I think the best advice I could possibly give to an aspiring dancer or someone who wants to do this for a living is to believe in yourself and never give up. Also, know that no matter who you are you have something special to offer that no one else does. Having said that, I would also say work really hard to improve your art form—technically and artistically— because it can and will always grow and change if you set your mind to it.”