DANCE ‣ Dancer of the Month - March 2022, Elaine Miller
Updated: Jun 5, 2022
It’s time for another dancer of the month! This month we are featuring Elaine Miller of City Ballet of San Diego! Elaine Miller, a native of Charlotte, NC, began her serious ballet training under the direction of Melissa Hale Coyle and Lisa Leone with Charlotte City Ballet Company. She furthered her training at the University of South Carolina, where she studied under Stacey Calvert, Thaddeus Davis, Tanya Wideman-Davis, and Shannon Ludlum. At USC, Elaine performed several featured roles in works by George Balanchine, including the Russian Girl in Serenade, the Solo Girl in Walpurgisnacht, and the pink regiment leader in Stars and Stripes. She graduated from USC in 2018 with a B.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography and a B.S. in Economics. Elaine joined City Ballet of San Diego in 2018, and has performed with the company in numerous productions, including soloist roles in Elizabeth Wistrich's Brahms and The Nutcracker, as well as principal roles in Balanchine's Who Cares? Elaine loves teaching ballet to students of all ages and currently teaches at three studios in the San Diego area.
As she is now in her fourth season with City Ballet of San Diego, Elaine has had multiple opportunities to perform. Some of her favorites have included Act III of Paquita, Act II of Swan Lake, Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadere, and George Balanchine’s Who Cares? When speaking of why she decided to join CBSD Elaine said, “I have long admired the CBSD’s repertoire. The company performs several works by George Balanchine, and I was very fortunate to study the Balanchine aesthetic for four years during college at the University of South Carolina. Stacey Calvert, a former soloist with New York City Ballet, was my main instructor at USC, and she set many Balanchine works on us, including Walpurgisnacht, Serenade, Donizetti Variations, Allegro Brillante, and La Source. Because of this training, I felt well-prepared to join a company that performs these works at a professional level.
City Ballet also performs amazing works from the classical repertoire, including Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, and Don Quixote. It was always a dream of mine to perform in those full-length ballets, so I was ecstatic when I got an offer from CBSD!”
Becoming a professional can shift your view of ballet and allow you to really be able to focus on the art and your personal progression. For Elaine, teaching became very valuable in her progression as breaking down the steps for younger dancers has helped her in own technique and understanding of the steps. Not only this, but the reinforcement exercises in Pilates have also helped Elaine strengthen her core, maintain flexibility, and prevent injury. She has created a balance in how she trains utilizing effective cross-training methods to help her throughout her career.
Some tips that Elaine would like to give are to, “Take risks! Audition for your “reach” company. When I was a dance student in college, I never thought I would receive an offer from City Ballet, a company I had long admired. I really threw caution to the wind and flew across the country to audition and ended up getting an apprenticeship. You never know when you are going to catch someone’s eye or be exactly what a company is looking for. Believe in yourself, have faith in your training, and take chances!”
Elaine has truly lived by this motto not only in the start of her career but even now as she just recently set the full-length ballet Cinderella on some of her students. While this was maybe out of her comfort zone, it turned out to be a great experience as she was able to see what life is like on the other side of full-length ballets. She was able to learn so much about connecting each piece to another and also pass on her knowledge to her students. Now after having this experience Elaine has realized how enjoyable it is and would love to set more ballets in the future.
If you would like to support Elaine in person, she will be performing in City Ballet’s “Rhapsody in Blue'' program March 25-26th at Balboa Theater in San Diego (tickets available at cityballet.org). The show will consist of Balanchine’s Danses Concertantes (San Diego Premiere), Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadere, and an original work by Geoff Gonzalez, our resident choreographer, to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The three pieces are each beautiful and vary from one another, so there will be something every audience member can appreciate!
Photo Credits (in order): Jaroslav Richters, Sophie Robertson, Anna Scipione, Sophie Robertson, & Sophie Robertson