OBT staff members Linda Besant and Claire Willett sat down with retiring Principal Dancer Anne Mueller to interview her about her life and career. Over the next few days we’ll be sharing with you some of her stories and anecdotes – from her childhood as a touring ballet dancer, to the craziest photo shoot she ever worked on, to how she ended up living on a “nano-farm” with her husband and two goats. Enjoy these behind-the-scenes peeks at the life of one of OBT’s most engaging, colorful and unique personalities, beginning with these two tales from her student days.(This is a quick video clip of the Danish National Ballet’s production of Napoli, which Anne was invited to perform in as a student at the Washington Ballet.)
Dancing at the Kennedy Center — Napoli with the Royal Danish Ballet
Anne remembers: Once I started training seriously, I was living in the Washington, D.C. area, and I had started to study at the Washington School of Ballet.
One of the neatest things about living and studying dance in Washington is that the Kennedy Center brings in a large number of the world’s best ballet companies every year. As a student it’s a dreamy place to be because you get to see the best dancers in the world performing in a lot of different styles—American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Kirov Ballet.
Generally when a large company came to town and they needed kids, they would come to the Washington School of Ballet and say, “Do you have kids that can do this?”
So I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the Royal Danish Ballet’s Napoli.
We were auditioned and I was absolutely delighted to be chosen as one of six or eight girls, I was twelve at the time, who actually got to dance in the production. Even more exciting than that, I got to dance with a little Danish boy who was also 12 years old. I had a crush on him before I even met him. (Coincidentally, I married a Dane.) We rehearsed for maybe two weeks and then we were in the theater, and we performed this amazing, historically significant ballet with impeccable dancers. I remember the dress I got to wear. It was green silk, and so beautiful.
We danced our portion. I don’t have any memory of being nervous about it, I was just so excited. After we danced we got to go up onto the bridge that was in the upstage part of the set and stand and watch the entire Napoli Pas de Six from the bridge, and throw paper flowers at the end. It was totally incredible to be watching dancers of that skill level from so close.
Actually, the current director of the Royal Danish Ballet, Nicolaj Hübbe, was still dancing with them at the time, before he went to NYCB. I remember really liking his dancing, and having a crush on him too. I think I followed him down the hall and took pictures of him.
The dancers of that company were so very nice and generous to us. We circulated our pointe shoes around to be signed. I’m certain my parents still have that pointe shoe somewhere, signed by a bunch of members of the Royal Danish Ballet.
I had seen lots of lavish productions, but being part of it, being on that stage was an entirely different matter. It was a magical experience.