DANCE ‣ Dancer of the Month, April 2021 - Hannah Knorr, USA
Updated: May 6, 2021
Victoria Parker, Senior Editor, Dance
I am excited to be introducing our newest series, appropriately titled “Dancer of the Month,” which will be posted on the first of every month. In this series we want to highlight professional dancers from all over the world and give you a direct contact into what is going on within the dance world. These dancers will share their highlights from years past, how they got to where they are, and even get vulnerable concerning the struggles of being an artist during the COVID-19 pandemic. The dancers are getting real and raw with how they are and what they are doing as they pursue the ever sought after career as a professional ballet dancer. Advice for other dancers, as well as tip and tricks, will also be provided. The dance world is small, and here, we strive to connect dancers from across the globe. Without further ado, I would like to present our premier dancer of the month for April 2021, Hannah Knorr.
Hannah is originally from Dayton, Ohio, USA, where she began her early training under the guidance of Camille Izard Morris, a former ABT dancer. Shortly after, she continued her training at Dayton Ballet with Dermot and Karen Russo Burke, Paul Gilliam, and others. Here, she was able to perform alongside the company in many classical works. Her summers were spent training with BalletMet, ABT, The Washington School of Ballet, Orlando Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet. After high school, Hannah decided to continue her dance education at the University of Oklahoma School of Dance, where she just recently earned a BFA in Ballet Performance with a Minor in Health/Exercise Science. Here she was exposed to a variety of repertoire ranging from George Balanchine to Merce Cunningham. In February 2020, Hannah was even able to perform in Cancun through a tour with the International Dance Encounter. She also enjoys choreographing and has produced three neoclassical works so far. During the 2020 season, Hannah performed with Fort Wayne Ballet as a corps de ballet member. Currently, she works in administration, social media/marketing, and teaches for DeCruz Ballet, led by former Pacific Northwest Ballet Principals, Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz. She will also be performing with Ballet North Texas during the spring. The most recent news for Hannah, though, is that she just accepted a full company artist position at Confluence Ballet in Pittsburg, PA, USA, which she will begin in August 2021.
Admittedly, the last year or so has been difficult on all of us in various ways, but arguably artists in general have suffered moreso. Theaters, studios, museums, and galleries alike have been shut down for months. For artists, these spaces represent more than just their work and income, but their passion and drive in life. Having this taken away can be heartbreaking. Hannah recognizes that this year has been challenging, but has also allowed herself to take the time to really focus on herself and what she needs both mentally and physically. In September 2020 Hannah began dancing with Fort Wayne Ballet in Indiana as a corps de ballet dancer. Hannah soon realised that this was a negative environment for her and left the company. Thanks to encouraging mentors, by the end of 2020 Hannah was remotivated and excited to move to Texas to work alongside her mentors at DeCruz Ballet. Here she does administrative work, as well as teaches Pilates, ballet, modern, fitness, and toddlers’ Creative Movement. She is also able to train 4-5 hours a day, including cross-training techniques such as HIIT, and has professional guesting gigs set up until she moves again to join Confluence Ballet.
Although the last year and a half were not exactly what she had imagined, Hannah has shown that through our struggles we find what we really wanted and needed deep down. Change is not negative, it can actually be a positive time in your life. For Hannah, this change allowed her to concentrate on herself as a dancer and a human with real needs. This time period permitted her to take time for herself and do a lot of self-care. She has picked up the habit of journaling her gratitude, worked with a health/nutrition coach, and is able to invest in other interests unrelated to dance that bring her joy. Her long term, and ongoing, goal is to find a balance in her life between being a dancer and being a human. She strives to put her best effort forward, while not being so hard on herself. Perfectionism tendencies often flow through each dancer, but learning how to control it is extremely difficult. Hannah expresses that focus is the key to regulating your perfectionism, which can be strenuous, but as she says, your mental health is worth it.
I asked Hannah for her advice to other dancers and athletes during this time and she said something that really resonated with me, as I hope it will with you too. She said, “Living life as a human first, and a dancer or athlete second is so important.” I could not agree more. As artists and athletes alike, putting your passion first is easy, but remembering who you are at your core should really be your top priority. We are humans and allowed to feel and emote. Admitting you had a bad day is ok. You can only perform as good as you feel, so being both mentally and physically healthy will likely enhance your performance level. Hannah also advises focusing on what we can control like our “emotions, reactions, and how we approach a task or the day,” rather than what we cannot control. Life is full of hills and valleys as Hannah points out, so if you feel like you are in a valley, just know a hill is likely right around the corner
If you are near and able to I would like to encourage you to support Hannah by attending her upcoming shows. She will be performing at Corpus Christi Ballet’s Waves of Dance festival, in a contemporary piece originally set on PNB dancers, which will take place on April 24 and 25, 2021, and on June 4 and 5, 2021, she will be guesting in Ballet North Texas’ production of Cinderella. Tickets and details are linked below, as we hope to advocate for the arts and Hannah as this month’s Dance of the Month.
Photo Credits (in order shown): Shevaun Williams, Milwaukee Ballet, Sarah Cemak, & Shevaun Williams