Loving the process

This ballet dancer is no princess

Caitlin Quinn, photography by Ellie Bogue

Many little girls are drawn to ballet with visions of being the pretty princess in tiara and tutu. But for Caitlin Quinn, company dancer at Fort Wayne Ballet, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, her serious training in ballet came later than usual and was never part of her original attraction to dance.

“I was really interested in tap. That was what sparked my interest in dance,” she said. “I had no interest in ballet whatsoever. The princess thing wasn’t me at all. I eventually started taking ballet because it was the hardest form, so if you can do that, you can do almost anything in dance.”

Her training included tap, jazz and ballet, though the school she attended in Warner Robins, Georgia, was not designed for the more strenuous training needed to pursue a career in dance. Eventually, one of Quinn’s teachers opened a school that allowed her to begin serious training in her mid-teens, which Quinn concedes is “kind of late to be getting started, so I just worked really hard.”

Quinn’s commitment to dance as a career began with her first recital. The chance to perform was her first incentive to take her training seriously. But her singular determination, fully supported by her parents, led her to continue her studies through summer intensive programs and a series of trainee positions. Eventually Quinn added stints in California, Tennessee, Minnesota and Texas before she and a fellow dancer decided to study for a year in Argentina.

“That was an incredible experience, and I got to see dancers who had learned in a very different way and work with teachers who were very different from what I had had. It changed the way I danced. It was a hard experience in a lot of ways. There was culture shock, and I didn’t speak the language, which was harder than I thought it was going to be. But everyone was very nice, and I loved my teachers and coaches.”

Following her year in South America, Quinn returned to the United States and found her first company position at Fort Wayne Ballet. In her two years with the ballet, she has performed regularly, including dancing leads in “Romeo & Juliet” and “Don Quixote.” Next month she’ll add another set of performances in “The Nutcracker” to her tally, her third here in Fort Wayne. Her favorite performance, however, is a little different from those roles.

“I’ve loved so many parts since I’ve been here, but I think the ‘Black Swan’ pas de deux may be my favorite. I loved the character, and it felt good because I have a harder time with the princess-y parts.”

First appeared in the November 2015 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.


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