Ballerina Alex Clark went from a small studio to portraying Myrtha in BYU Theatre Ballet’s performance of ballet classic “Giselle”
After starting dance at five years old and moving on to pointe at the age of nine, Alex Clark has been on her toes for 18 years. Being as dedicated to something as Clark has been doesn’t come without sacrifices. In high school, Clark was already hard at work. Her routine consisted of driving an hour to the Pacific Northwest Ballet studio in Seattle six days a week and practicing three to four hours a night. She would also spend her high school summers in New York City training with the School of American Ballet. Even from a young age, Clark knew what it meant to master her craft.
“Even though perfection is unattainable, striving for it is invigorating. That's why I like practicing in the studio and with people. That's one reason that I love to do it. I also love the elegance and challenge that comes from trying to make it look easy when it's not,” she said.
Though ballet is a difficult discipline within dance, Clark said she never thought about quitting. “I was never to the point where I wanted to quit, but sometimes I needed a break. There were moments where I needed to figure out the reasons for why I was dancing just to get through class,” said Clark. With seven years of training under her belt, Clark wasn’t quite ready to let go. After coming to BYU, she discovered the Theatre Ballet company. Following three years on the team, Clark portrayed Myrtha in the ballet masterwork “Giselle' during the Winter 2021 season. “Giselle” tells the story of a peasant girl who falls in love with Albrecht, a nobleman in disguise. Myrtha is the queen of the Wilis. She is evil, regal and icy. It is Giselle’s love for Albrecht that saves him from Myrtha. The hardest part, Clark said, was the stamina required for the role. “There's a lot of jumping! Being the evil queen, you have to have a presence while you're doing it. You have to be sharp and on top of the music,” she said. Clark continued, “When you're a soloist, you have to command the stage because you're the only thing the audience is looking at. Just keeping up that presence, technique and stamina is probably the hardest thing. It’s a role that has stretched me.” Theatre Ballet has been an amazing source of support and continuous growth for Clark. She said she’s learned a lot from director Shayla Bott. “I really admire her knowledge of the body, dance technique and her ability to combine different cross training styles and different techniques. She is very versatile in her teaching and knowledge,” she said. “I'm glad that I could do ballet this year because the dancers are like my other family. As we work and sweat together each day, we find strength and support in helping each other become better dancers,” said Clark. For anyone considering joining the Theatre Ballet company, Clark said this: “It'll always be an amazing experience if you put your mind and heart into it. Part of it is the dancing, but the other part of it is just being with great people. You get to learn and grow in a safe space.”