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From Salt Lake to Great Lake:

An interview with Joffrey Ballet dancer Heather Aagard

by Dean Speer and Francis Timlin

August 15, 2005 -- Joffrey Ballet Headquarters, Chicago

We were able to catch Ms. Aagard during a short break following Company Class, before she began a rehearsal with Twyla Tharp.

How did you get started in ballet?

I grew up in Sandy, Utah – a suburb of Salt Lake City -- and began ballet with a good teacher, Linda Fenton, when I was ten years old.  I went to Pacific Northwest Ballet during summers; I spent one summer at Houston Ballet, and trained at the Ballet West Academy before spending my final year of training at PNB in the Professional Division. I started dancing with the Joffrey Ballet in July of 2001.

The Joffrey is famous for its huge and eclectic collection of ballets.  What is some of the current repertory you are looking forward to doing and what have been some of your favorite ballets?

For this season, I’m looking forward to doing Ashton’s “The Dream,” “Celebration,” “Return to a Strange Land.”  It’s a good combination of classical and contemporary.  Last summer we did a Balanchine repertory program that was fun to do; this included “Tarantella, “Apollo,” and “Square Dance.”  I love the Balanchine ballets!  These were staged for us by Vicki Simon and Paul Boos.

What makes the Joffrey “The Joffrey?”  What’s special about it for you?

I love the people here.  There is lots of camaraderie.  Everyone is friendly and there is a family atmosphere that really pulls people through both the good and more challenging times.  The dancers give so beautifully.

What pointe shoes do you wear?

Freeds and the maker is “club,” although this (the maker) changes.

What do you like to do outside of ballet?

I like hiking and outdoor activities.  I’m involved with my church and enjoy history and reading.  Chicago is amazing -- with our Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Art Museum.


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