A Student’s Perspective on Learning to Choreograph
SF Ballet School Student Pemberley Ann Olson on Choreographing
I started at San Francisco Ballet School when I was six years old. I remember my first day like it was yesterday. We started our class with basic ballet steps and learned some new moves that we could show to our parents. I remember vividly when our teacher, Ms. Kristi, had the pianist play music from Nutcracker and let us dance across the floor. She wanted to see how we could use our musicality, artistry, and creativity in our own dancing. At that moment, I knew I wanted to be a ballet dancer.
Choreography has been an important part of my journey here at the School. Over the past 11 years, I have watched many ballets performed by the Company, from story ballets to new contemporary works. Watching these inventive and creative pieces has given me ideas and inspiration for my own choreography. What’s fascinating to me is how different choreographers have their own process. Some utilize improvisation and experimentation and others have set ideas, already knowing exactly what they want to see from the dancers. I’m still developing my own process, trying out new things.
It’s been amazing to work with some of my closest friends, creating a piece that makes them shine in their own way. I love to see a small idea that might not have started out strong turn into a pivotal point in choreography. I’m extremely excited to present my work at the Spring Festival in May. We’ve all worked very hard to make something, and I can’t wait to show the final result.
Being a Choreographic Fellow has been an amazing experience. I’ve discovered how much I love to see my own ideas of movement come to life. Choreographing lets me release all my feelings into movement. I hadn’t realized how much I loved to create until I was given the chance to, and for that, I am so thankful. It’s always been my lifelong dream to be a professional ballet dancer, and being a choreographer is now a new ambition. San Francisco Ballet School has given me so many incredible opportunities: from that first experience when I was 6 years old, dancing Nutcracker, it’s been an incredible adventure.
Pemberley Ann Olson is a student at San Francisco Ballet School and one of the 2018–19 Choreographic Fellows. Her new work will be performed as part of the San Francisco Ballet School Spring Festival.
Header photo: San Francisco Ballet School Student in Johnston’s Effervescence // © Lindsay Thomas