Introduce Yourself(ie): 10 Questions with Encores! I Married An Angel Star Sara Mearns
Sara Mearns stars as the title angel in Encores! limited revival of the 1930s Rodgers and Hart dance spectacular I Married An Angel, running at New York City Center March 20-24. A principal dancer with New York City Ballet, Sara shows New York audiences a new side of herself with this big musical theatre debut. The original run was directed and choreographed by the legendary George Balanchine for his fiance Vera Zorina, and likewise, this revival is directed and choreographed by Sara's husband, Tony nominee Joshua Bergasse.
Get to know the acclaimed ballerina a bit better as Sara talks with BroadwayBox about working with her husband on the piece, her favorite films about dance, and the daily demands that dance requires.
1. How do you approach your roles physically? When dancing as an Angel, where do you begin to create character through movement?
I’ve been approaching my roles physically since I was 3 years old! It’s how my brain figures things out. My character is an angel, and since I’m in pointe shoes, it’s very easy to find that ethereal, angelic like quality of floating and being in a higher place.
2. What’s the best thing about collaborating with your husband (director/choreographer Joshua Bergasse) on this project?
My husband knows all of me and he is one of the best collaborators out there. I’ve seen him deal with crazy situations with such ease. He knows what I’m good at and also how I approach my process and respects that, and vice versa, so that’s why it’s easy to work together on such a huge scale.
3. What’s the biggest challenge in working so closely with your husband?
The biggest challenge for me is stepping back and not trying to always take care of him. He has a great group of associates around him to help, but all I want to do is be there for him since he has so much to focus on.
4. Who were the professional dancers you most admired growing up?
My number one was Natalia Makarova. Then it was Wendy Whelan, Darci Kistler and Kyrà Nichols.
5. What’s your most cherished memory of dancing Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes?
It was performing it in front of the New York audience. The energy you get from them is crazy compared to other cities and theaters. I was so at home and comfortable and didn’t have any nerves or worries. It was a very hard show to do but I got thru it because of the audience.
6. What is one thing most people don’t know or understand about professional dancers?
That we are athletes. We work just as hard or maybe harder on our craft, and you can never let time go by where you are not working on it. You can’t take extended time off like other art forms; it’s a constant journey that doesn’t demand less than that. If you want to be good, it’s an everyday career.
7. What advice would you give to a ballerina auditioning for New York City Ballet?
Unfortunately, NYCB doesn’t hold auditions, you have to go to the School of American Ballet to be taken in to the company. We all came from the same place which keeps the company as special as it is. So, my advice would be to go to SAB!!
8. What is your favorite movie or TV series about dancers?
To be honest, I don’t want dance shows on TV. My favorite dance movie of all time is The Turning Pointe, also The Red Shoes is up there. Suzanne Farrell’s documentary is pretty amazing as well.
9. You’ve danced all over the world, which foreign city captured your heart most and why?
Copenhagen!! The city is so beautiful, the way they care about the arts is beautiful. The Amalfi Coast is a close second. Performing on the cliff side there was insane!!
10. You made your Broadway debut dancing the pas de deux from On the Town. What surprised you most about your experience on Broadway compared to the ballet?
My part in that was very small and only for one night, but the biggest difference is the schedule. You do the same show every night but have your days free. At NYCB, we don’t have our days free and we do a different ballet every night. It’s a completely different mental game. I thrive off of doing different ballets, I don’t know how I would do the same thing every night. It’s a stamina that I can’t wrap my brain around.
Don't miss Sara Mearns in her dazzling musical debut in 'I Married An Angel' at New York City Center March 20-24.