Behind the Scenes of BMD with Heather Malone-Wolf
My name is Heather Malone-Wolf. I started dancing in high school after my best friend made a bet that I couldn’t get into Maryland’s prestigious Baltimore School for the Arts. After a month, I knew that I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. I danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem’s second company, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Nashville Ballet, and eventually as a soloist with the Oakland Ballet. The greatest thing about being a professional dancer is being able to express a feeling, a notion, or a thought without ever speaking a word.
How long have you been dancing with the company and what do you enjoy the most about being a company member?
Wintergreen will mark my official third season with the company. Three years ago, BMD was set to perform at Wintergreen when a company member got injured. At the time, I had been taking Lucy’s class on Saturday afternoons. Lucy told me about the situation and asked me if I was a quick learner. I stepped in and learned a ballet in about three rehearsals, traveled with the company to Wintergreen; and after the first performance, Lucy offered me a contract with the company.
The thing I enjoy most about the company is that we are our own little family. The company is small so we are a pretty tight niche group. We go the extra mile for each other, whether it is saving a spot at the barre, helping each other learn new roles, celebrating weddings and engagements, or simply knowing each other’s Starbucks orders.
This is BMD’s third season at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival. What is it like performing at an outdoor venue?
Performing at an outdoor venue is amazing. It brings the performance to a whole new level. To do a grand jeté in the air as the wind is blowing through my hair or to perform a series of chaîné turns and all I can see are the stars and mountains is a feeling that no one can ever achieve in an indoor venue. The audience is so appreciative of our presence and performance. The residents and music lovers at Wintergreen make each year uniquely special.
Lucy enjoys working with live musicians and the company will be performing with the piano duo, Fabio and Gisele Witkowski, and DC’s rock band, Half Brother, at Wintergreen. What is it like to perform to live music and to dance to two very different musical styles?
I love performing to live music. As a performing artist, it keeps me alive and on my toes. One night the tempo may be a little slower than usual and the next night it could be on the quicker side! No matter what happens, each night is never the same, and it’s a wonderful feeling because it makes the company grow closer; we have to work together and rely on each other even more. It makes one personally grow as an artist.
Dancing to different styles of music is very similar to an actor playing two different roles in one movie. I enjoy dancing to different styles of music because I am able to change my personality and persona throughout the show. One minute I get to play a woman who is part of a community and the next I get to play a vixen!
What will someone unfamiliar with “Rite of Spring” see if they come to Wintergreen?
Someone who is unfamiliar with “Rite of Spring” will see whatever their imagination allows them to see. I have been told from people who have seen but were not familiar with the ballet that they could see community, love, anger, betrayal, and sacrifice.
What is your favorite thing about being on tour?
I don’t have one favorite thing about being on tour. I have been on tours that have been as short as two days and as long as a bus tour for 4 weeks around the country! I love performing for new audiences; and I love going to different states, performing in different venues, and expanding the range of our viewing audience. However, if I had to pick one thing, I must say that I love company dinners after performances. We are with each other so much in the studio and in the theatre rehearsing that it is great to be able to sit down with our fellow dancers and simply enjoy each other’s company.
What do you plan to do with your free time at Wintergreen?
I am the resident workout buff of the company, so in my free time I will probably workout; but I am sure my fellow company members will have me down by the pool before I know it!