Posted by Rebecca King on 06.12.2016
There comes a time in the life of every professional ballet dancer where they face a fork in the road. As the end of their ballet career nears, they must decide what comes next. For former Miami City Ballet Soloist Sara Esty, Broadway called, and she answered. As part of the original “An American in Paris” Broadway’s cast, she is now headlining the national tour as the show’s lead woman, “Lise.” I spoke with her about her journey from the world of professional ballet, into a whole new realm of theater.
Rebecca King: First of all, congratulations on your Broadway debut and leading the nationwide tour of An American in Paris! How did this opportunity come about?
Sara Esty: Thank you! It’s a funny story, actually. I got a Facebook message from a casting director in New York City asking if I’d be interested in hearing more about a project that was in the works with Christopher Wheeldon. I thought to myself, “NYC? Wheeldon? Yes please!” So I replied and she sent me more information. Little by little I sent my audition materials, and the rest is history! Being part of the original Paris and Broadway casts has been a dream come true. I can’t wait to continue the journey!
RK: I know you are a huge fan of musicals and Broadway productions. Was being on Broadway something that you always had in mind for your career?
SE: It has always been in the back of my mind, but I never really knew if I’d ever get the chance. When this looked like a possibility, I knew it was my chance so I had to go for it! Who knows where the road will lead, but I’m loving my mix of the ballet world and the Broadway world.
RK: An American In Paris is choreographed by ballet choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon, who we have also worked with here in Miami. As you have been there since the birth of this production, how was the process of putting together a musical different from learning a new ballet?
SE: It’s been the most remarkable process to witness. There were two great forces at work – a team of seasoned Broadway veterans creating a full length musical, and artistic creative minds of the ballet world creating choreography. I’m very much used to the ballet side, but so much goes into putting a musical together that I was unaware of. The meshing of these great minds was fantastic and they learned so much from each other. What came out of it is a truly remarkable thing, with a perfect balance (I believe) of each side. Another noticeable difference is in the theater world you have approximately three weeks of tech rehearsals onstage, as opposed to three days in the ballet world. Then you have to get used to eight shows a week. You have to learn how to sustain energy and pace yourself so you last!
RK: What challenges have you faced in your transition from classical ballet to Broadway? Was it what you expected?
SE: I have definitely missed dancing a mixed repertoire. Doing the same show every night is extremely difficult, especially when you’re used to doing something different every few weekends. I’ve never done the same show this long! That being said, it is never the same show twice. It’s been unbelievable to feel like you’re apart of something bigger than yourself and your cast. To know all of the Broadway curtains rise at the same time gives you an amazing sense of camaraderie which is unreal. It’s what I’ve dreamt it would be, and so much more.
RK: You have been performing the lead role of Lise regularly on Broadway for the past year, and you are about to embark on a national tour that you are headlining. Do you still get nervous? How did you cope with the nerves at the beginning? Has it gotten easier?
SE: I’ve never been so nervous for a role or show in my entire life. However, doing it more often you learn how to envelope yourself in the story and tell the characters’ truth, and stop worrying. It’s amazing to see where I was and how I feel doing it now. To transform into another person completely for two and a half hours is quite a journey. I don’t even notice the audience anymore until the last scene. There are definitely still nerves for sure, but I’ve learned how to calm myself through them.
RK: Is there any advice you would like to offer aspiring dancers/ aspiring Broadway stars?
SE: Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your dreams. I was told I didn’t have the correct facility to dance in NYC, and now I’m on Broadway. Make it happen if you truly want it!