TPB is proud to feature Samantha Baybado, one of our seniors for the 2013/14 Curriculum year!
Samantha has been such a lovely addition to our school. Everyone likes “Sam” as we call her; she’s a gem. Not only is Sam an accomplished ballet dancer but she also excels in Modern. Sam’s gorgeous shock of red hair really sets her apart, as well as her wonderful performing skills and ballon. (Ballon is the light, elastic quality in jumping.) In addition to Sam’s full load with school and Curriculum classes, she has assisted and demonstrated for our Levels 1 & 2 teacher, Patti Jones, for several years, and is a natural, doing a superb job. We will miss Sam enormously but wish her much success in life no matter where her passion leads her. - Nancy Davis, Artistic Director
Name, Age, Year in School?
Samantha Baybado, 17-years-old, 12th grade.
When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was three at a community center and then switched over to Contra Costa Ballet when I realized just how much I loved to dance.
When did you start at TPB?
I started with TPB when I was 14. It was the summer before 9th grade.
How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?
Being so busy with dance has helped me manage my time and that’s been a big help with school work, but at the same time it has made it pretty difficult to have a social life outside of dance. I always try to get as much school work done at school so I don’t have to worry about it when I’m at TPB taking class.
What are your other hobbies besides dance?
I love photography. I’ve been taking pictures since I was about four-years-old. To be able to capture a moment and preserve it is magical. I’ve taken some classes and it has really opened up another world to me. Just like dance, photography is an art form that is another way to express yourself. I’ve always been involved in some form of art whether it be drawing, painting, or taking pictures.
Influential master classes? Or teachers?
Patti Jones has been a major influence for me. She has all these genius ways to make your body do what it’s supposed to do. I’ve been re-working my technique with her and it has made me a stronger dancer. Also, working as her demonstrator, I learn how to not only improve my technique, but to help teach it to younger dancers which is an incredibly valuable skill. Josie Moseley has also helped me grow as an artist over these past few years. It’s important for a ballet dancer to be able to move in ways that are outside that of classical technique. It is a different form of expression, modern dance, and by working with Josie, I feel like I can really show myself through my movement. It feels like second nature.
Or SBI programs?
One of the first summer programs I went to was with Oregon Ballet Theatre and I completely loved it. I felt like I was really learning and that I was improving my technique because the teachers had different ways of presenting information that made sense to me. It’s always good to get a different perspective. Everything was so focused on details and the movements are so clean and clear. They also have a lot of professional dancers teaching the students and taking class with them. I find it interesting to take class from someone I’ve seen perform onstage because then you can get an idea of how they think when they are dancing. You can learn also about performance quality by taking classes with professionals.
Why do you dance?
Dance is magic. For me, when I dance everything just feels right. No matter what’s happening, I can be having a bad day or be in a bad mood, but once I start to dance, it all gets better. I can’t explain it any better than that. Just whatever is going on in the “real world” seems to not matter anymore once I get into the studio. I can be me. It’s another world where music and movement are the guiding forces. Dancing has gotten me through some tough times. It’s like a good friend. I don’t know what I’d do without it.
Favorite role or ballet danced?
I really loved dancing Bluebird from Sleeping Beauty with Lucas Pitts in the summer of 2011. It’s such an energetic piece with great music. For the same reasons, I enjoyed doing Little Swans in Swan Lake. They both take precision and musicality and are just plain fun to dance.
Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?
I don’t think I have a preference as far as barre versus center but I do love to jump. At my studio in California, it was normal to do a minimum of half an hour of allegro each class. Most of that time was spent on medium and grand allegro. There’s just so many cool tricks that you can do with jumps. Sometimes I get jealous of all the fun things guys get to do in their variations. That’s part of the reason I try to take men’s class with Jason Davis as often as I can. Plus, you can get so much stronger and you need that stamina for performances. Also, with the more contemporary choreography that is becoming popular as of late, it isn’t uncommon for girls to be doing bigger jumps. We need to be able to keep up with the guys! (Too true!)
Favorite TPB moment?
I don’t think I can pin-point a specific moment, but I love the atmosphere of performance weeks. Spending time with your friends between shows, watching each other perform, the adrenaline of being onstage doing what you love… that’s when the best memories are made. I do have to say though, watching Marina DiCorcia dancing Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year from the wings was one of my favorite dance moments. There’s nothing like watching a friend perform and be so on like she was during those shows.
Plans for after graduation?
I want to audition for training programs and companies and then maybe online college if I dance. Either that or go to school and dance while studying something like physical therapy or nutrition. I definitely want to take a break from academic school for a while though.
Pursue dance professionally?
I would really love a chance to dance professionally. I’ve worked all my life with that goal and to get to this point now and to not try to pursue my passion just feels like it would be a waste. Whether it be ballet, contemporary, or modern, I want to get a chance to perform as a professional.
Dream job- where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years?
I’d like to dance with Company C Contemporary Ballet. I grew up watching them and I fell in love with the way that they move. It’s such an amazing blend of modern and balletic movements. The Company C dancers are all so strong and they have to be with their repertoire. I’ve seen the dancers in pieces ranging from classical ballets to Twyla Tharp and David Parsons. I remember going to see one of their shows for my birthday and one of the pieces in it was called “boink!” It was the most hilarious piece I’d ever seen. I remember trying so hard not to laugh and at the end they all came out and posed with martini glasses. I would also like to teach dance. I’ve had some practice working with the younger kids and I really enjoy it. Being able to pass on what you know so that someone else can learn to love dance as much as you do is a real joy. Also, I’m super detail oriented when it comes to dance so being a ballet master or doing work with a company setting pieces is something I’d like to do.
Any advice for young TPB dancers?
I would have to say that if dance is your passion, don’t let anything get in your way. There are going to be some roadblocks and you’re not always going to be happy with how things turn out but just keep at it. There is something out there for everyone, just don’t give up. There are going to be times when you’re going to be asked to do something different. Don’t let that throw you, just give it a chance. You are going to have to be open-minded about change because you never know when something might just work for you. This goes for different styles of dance as well. I used to hate modern. I would block out anything the teacher would say and I would shut down during those classes and by doing so, I missed out on some valuable lessons. But one day, I just decided to give it a shot. Now modern is one of my favorite classes and I feel like it has helped me grow as a dancer. Other styles of dance can work to improve your ballet technique. A dancer’s greatest tool is themselves. Make sure you take care of yourself because nothing is more devastating than getting injured and being told that you can’t dance. Cross-training is a factor that can really help when it comes to staying on top of your game. By cross-training, you strengthen your muscles outside of dance classes so they can better handle what you do during class. It can be doing barre in the pool, going to the gym, or taking Pilates classes. I didn’t start cross-training until recently and I wish I’d started sooner. I have found numerous advantages such as being able to find my center, hold a position better or longer, and also keeping up stamina for performing.
What wonderful advice, Samantha! We wish you only the best! Any comments, congratulations, questions for Sam? Leave them here!