Pictured: Jordan Elizabeth Long competes at the 2009 World Ballet Competition Finals. Photo by: V. Trudeau/D. Sherman ©
At the World Ballet Competition (WBC) USA in 2009, Jordan Elizabeth Long not only captured the audience with her impeccable technique and artistry... she also earned the Gold Medal in the Professional Category.
Fast-forward to 2015, she offers insight into competing at the World Ballet Competition for upcoming competitors and also shares what she's been up to since being awarded the Gold Medal.
1. How did you hear about the World Ballet Competition?
My teacher, Magaly Suarez, knew about the World Ballet Competition since her son, Taras Domitro, had won the gold medal previously. She suggested I compete.
2. How did you warm-up for competition, and stay warm-up before you performed?
I was really lucky that Magaly could come to the competition with me and she gave me a barre each evening before I danced. I liked the fact that there was a studio backstage at the theater where the competition was held. I was able to keep warm in there, unlike some other competitions where the competitors have to wait in the corridors before their number is called.
3. Were you nervous when competing?
Magaly always used to say to me: “Being nervous is not an option.” Of course, everyone gets a bit of jitters sometimes. However, Magaly always prepared me very well and so I tried to trust myself.
3a. If yes, how did you calm your nerves?
I always say a prayer before I go out on stage, and then I try to just empty my mind of any doubts and trust that the rehearsal process has been enough to prepare me for this moment.
4. How was competing at the World Ballet Competition different from other competitions?
As I said previously, it was great that there was a studio where the dancers could warm up backstage. I also liked that the hotel was just across the street. Some competitions you have to be shuttled from a different part of the city to get to the theater. My favorite part was that you could listen to your score being announced directly after you danced. It added to the excitement of the whole process.
5. What was your most difficult solo to perform and why?
My most difficult solo to perform was the White Swan variation from Act II of Swan Lake. The variation might not seem hard from the perspective of the audience, but the ports de bras and style of this solo are very hard to do well and they take a lot of work and preparation.
6. What was your favorite solo to perform and why?
My favorite solo to perform was the Satanella variation from Carnival in Venice. The steps suited me and I felt like the personality of the variation was similar to my own. Watch Jordan compete with the Satanella Variation here: http://youtu.be/4tNUxCHw9rw
7. Who made your costumes?
My Diana and Acteon and Carmen dresses were made by a designer in Brazil. The White Swan tutu was rented and my mother made the Satanella tutu and my costume for my other modern solo, “Rebellion.”
8. Did you visit any of the attractions/theme parks while in Orlando?
I went to Universal Studios the day before the competition started and we stopped at some of the outlet malls on the way back.
9. What advice would you give to dancers who will be competing this summer?
Work as hard as you can before the competition, but when you arrive, just try to soak everything in and learn. The best part of competitions is the learning experience that you get. Pay attention to everything you see around you and it will help you become a better dancer in the future. Think about the process more than the medals.
10. How did your competition experience help you in your professional ballet career at the Royal Swedish Ballet and now at Miami City Ballet?
Competitions helped me get the stage experience I needed to feel comfortable when I am out on stage. Shortly after joining the Royal Swedish Ballet, I had to jump into the pas de trois of Swan Lake with just three days of rehearsal. My process of working on variations for competitions and then trusting myself when I got out onstage helped me to be calm.
11. Were there any memorable (or funny/surreal moments) while competing at the World Ballet Competition that you would like to share? After I won the gold medal in the professional division, I found out that I would be dancing on the closing gala in the evening. The little girl that won the gold medal in the preparatory category would also be dancing and we found ourselves in the same dressing room, with our mothers helping us get ready. The other girl and her mother were speaking a very strange language that I had never heard before. Well, it turns out that was my first experience with Swedish and that little girl was named Emily Slawski. Five years later, we were working together in the Royal Swedish Ballet! I still always joke with her that she was the first person I ever heard speak Swedish!
12. How did you land your jobs at the Royal Swedish Ballet and the Miami City Ballet?
When I was graduating from high school, it was a very bad time for the economy in the U.S. and most of the ballet companies were letting go of their dancers rather than hiring. I was not sure what I was going to do, and then a demi-soloist contract with Dutch National Ballet appeared. I went for it and moved to Europe. It was not the place for me, and after one season, I went to Stockholm to take class and was offered a place at the Royal Swedish Ballet. I loved my time there; I got a lot of opportunities, I got to travel a lot, and I was promoted to soloist during my third season. After five years though, I wanted to come back home. Lourdes Lopez had recently become the director of Miami City Ballet, and so I emailed her secretary about an audition. I came here to take class last March and I was offered a soloist contract. I moved in June and it truly feels like I have come “home.”
UPCOMING EVENTS OF THE WORLD BALLET COMPETITION
Please Visit our homepage at http://www.worldballetcompetition.com for information on registering for the upcoming World Ballet Competition Finals in Orlando, Florida, USA (June 8-13, 2015) OR the OPEN Edition in Romania (March 19-22, 2015).
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