It’s not every day that I have the chance to chat with a ballerina, so while I has talked to Jenny Winton about her role as Penny in the touring musical DIRTY DANCING in another article, I wanted to talk some ballet with her as well.
Jenny trained at the prestigious San Francisco Ballet before performing with Pennsylvania Ballet II and Joffrey Ballet , so she is no stranger to touring. But I wondered, how is the process touring in a musical versus a ballet?
“The Joffrey Ballet we would tour every year, but it was nothing to this caliber. Our longest tour was 5 weeks, and that was we would go into a different city every few days instead of every week or few weeks. But this (DIRTY DANCING National Tour) is a totally different level of touring. I’ve been living out of my suitcase since August, and there are a lot of challenges in that – not having a kitchen to cook, and not having your own home to come back to. But I really love the touring life and I think it’s really exciting being in all these different cities, so I’m really enjoying it. “
Yet, she finds that those dancing tour memories are never too far away. “It’s really interesting to see the old theatres that I’ve done ballets in, I remember warming up in this studio for this ballet, and getting into my tutu in this elevator. It’s a totally different and a completely different performance in an area in which I have been in before.”
Even though this show has a lot of dance in it, as a musical there are different needs for the cast and the crew than there are in a ballet.
“It is very different because there are different needs for a ballet company when they are touring. When a ballet company arrives they need a studio for class, and there’s a different schedule because there are sometimes there a class, sometimes there is a rehearsal, and then warm up classes, and then there’s the show. For musical theatre the space needs to be given to the techs to set up the stage, since it is a much more technical show than a ballet,” Jenny explains. “So as a dancer, the challenge for me is time find my own warm up space. Sometimes that’s easier in some cities than it is in other cities. But it’s been great because it’s challenged me to really take it with a grain of salt, if I can’t find a studio I can warm up somewhere else, then I go to vocal warm up with everyone. Vocal warm up before the show is because there are so many singers and actors, which are equally as important. We’re using our voices in the show and that is as equally important as warming up our bodies. Sometimes people do their own warm ups, sometimes the other dancers and I will warm up together, it’s a sense of community but a different one because it is much more eclectic and there are so many different talents and responsibilities in the show. It doesn’t center around one thing like in ballet.”
As different as her two worlds may be, and no matter what challenges she tries in the future, for Jenny ballet still comes first in her heart.
“It’s definitely taught me a lot of discipline, and determination. It has challenged me in so many different ways and it’s made tacking new things so much easier. Once I’ve been through the ballet world I can pretty much do anything. So it has boosted my confidence in that way. A lot of people don’t understand how hard it is, and it’s good to hear that people do appreciate that art form because it will always be in my heart and really, really important to me and a part of me. No matter what I do, acting, musical theatre, I’m always goibe ng to take that quality with me as a dancer.”
For now, you can watch Jenny dance as Penny in DIRTY DANCING, at the San Diego Civic Theatre through Sunday, January 11th. For dates, times, and ticket information go to www.Broadwaysd.com or call (619) 570-1100