PERFECTLY POISED. NEW MOTHER. ACHIEVES BALANCE.
BY LINDA BESANT, June 2007
Daniela Deloe was eight months pregnant when her Who’s Your Dancer? photo was taken. She’s on maternity leave, getting back into shape for dancing and filling her days caring for Rowan Thomas Deloe, who is now four months old.
You’ll return to the Company next season. Do you feel differently about dancing now that you have a child?
When I think back on the birth, it was magical. Everything worked out. It was miraculous. When Steve and I brought Rowan home, he weighed six pounds. He’s doubled his size already. Watching him develop, seeing him smile, learn to grab stuff, the little things that only parents would recognize . . . it’s a lot of work, having him, but it brings us incredible joy.
When I got pregnant, Christopher was so supportive. It was a big relief to me. Being pregnant and having a baby has given me a new perspective on my career. I thought that once I started a family, I’d just move on with my life. Ballet wouldn’t matter and I wouldn’t care about it any more. When I found out I was pregnant, I was happy and I was really excited, but I also looked at ballet and said, I’m not ready to give this up. Ballet still matters to me and I still care a lot about my career. I think it’s great that I can
I think having a family makes your life more well-rounded. A lot of dancers are very critical and very hard on themselves. If you have something else in your life that you can focus on and feel good about, it gives you a lighter perspective on ballet. You can come to work and have fun.
How did you get started studying ballet?
My parents have tons of old home videos of me putting on shows, running around the house and the backyard. I was dancing all the time, so they signed me up to take dance class. I started when I was seven or eight, at Rainbow School of Dance in Las Vegas. The class was a half hour of ballet and a half hour of tap. I think I was about nine when my Mom took me to a more serious ballet School—the Academy of Nevada Dance Theatre. I liked the discipline of ballet. When I see those old home videos, I see that dancing was initially a way of expressing myself. Ballet is very technical, and I really enjoy the continual challenge to perfect the technical aspect of it. There are rules, and you get to express yourself within those rules.
At what point did you decide to dance professionally?
To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t something I knew right away. It’s so competitive to get a job that maybe I was too scared to say this was what I really wanted to do. Right before I graduated from high school, I got an apprenticeship with Nevada Ballet Theatre. I didn’t really commit myself to it until the opportunity presented itself.
I had always lived in Vegas, and after a few years, three of us friends decided to do our own audition tour. It was very rugged—we used blankets from the airlines and stayed with friends. When we came to Portland I was able to see a performance, and I was very impressed that OBT was attracting so many different kinds of people to see the ballet.
How do you like Portland?
I love Portland. When we came here to audition, we were trying to pay the parking meter and some girl came up and said, “Hey, do you need some change?” Portland has such a sense of community. People really care about where they live. They want to take care of it and make it the best place they can. Also, it was cool to come to Portland and have people appreciate the art form of ballet as something amazing and special.
I also really like working with Christopher. He’s very challenging, but he allows you to express yourself and find out who you are as a dancer. I think the direction Christopher is taking the company is great. I’d never done Balanchine rep before, and I really enjoy that. And I was in Lar Lubovitch’s Concerto Six Twenty Two last season. I didn’t think I would like it because it was such a different way to move. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
When you’re not dancing, how do you like to spend your time?
My husband and I play board games and card games like Mille Bornes, Pictionary, Risk, Catch Phrase. My sister lives here too, and we’re all pretty competitive. It can get kind of nasty. We like movies too—documentaries and independent films. I’m not really into action movies. My all-time favorite is Wizard of Oz. Since Rowan was born, we’ve gotten into watching whole series like The Sopranos or Lost. It’s nice because the episodes are short.
Is there anything you want to tell audiences that they might not understand about the art of ballet?
Dancers have to make a lifetime commitment to ballet. We’ve been training since we were children. It’s a very rigorous schedule. We take class at 10 every morning for an hour and a half, and then we rehearse all day, until 5:30, sometimes on Saturdays too. There are endless hours of rehearsal, and so many details to take care of—sewing pointe shoes, taping your toes, doing your hair, doing your makeup. Mentally, learning choreography is very demanding. When we go home, we’re expected to think about what we’ve learned that day, and to come in the next day and be able to build upon that. It would be nice if people understood all the work that goes into it preparing a performance. That’s a frustration I have with ballet sometimes—if you’re doing it well it looks effortless. If you make it easy, in a way that’s kind of a compliment to your dancing.