Meet Lauren Wattenburg

The anticipation and excitement in the air is contagious as Lauren Wattenburg and her fellow dancers prepare for this weekend’s mixed-bill production of A Festival of Dance. Lauren brings a vibrant energy to every role she meets and positive enthusiasm to each step of the rehearsal process. Through the last few years, Lauren has come to brighten the stage with her graceful poise, powerful technique, and long elegant lines – as you will see April 8th and 9th, 2017.

Lauren placed first in the 2016 RAD Canada Dance Challenge, adjudicated by Lynn Wallace (pictured here).

After training with June Taylor-Dixon and traveling twice to Canada for coaching with recently retired Royal Academy of Dance Examiner Lynette Kelley, Lauren entered in February of 2017 for her Solo Seal examination – a performance award that is determined on a pass or fail basis and is only open to RAD students who have passed their Advanced II examination with Distinction. Lauren also auditioned and was accepted to Ballet West Academy’s Summer Intensive and is on the waitlist for the very prestigious Royal Ballet School Summer Program in London. In 2016, Lauren was accepted to Boston Ballet’s summer program and attended Texas Ballet Theatre School’s summer program. She also traveled with her classmate and fellow company dancer, Sarah Valesano, to the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School in York, England, and trained with professionals from the Royal Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet. In March 2016, she placed first in the RAD Canada Dance Challenge’s Advanced Division, which was adjudicated by Lynn Wallace, former artistic director of the Royal Academy of Dance. In addition, Lauren has attended the June Taylor’s School of Dance Summer Intensive for the past six years as well as multiple training sessions with Lynette Kelley in Vancouver, B.C.

Lauren’s tenacious dedication, commitment to detail in the studio and heart-felt passion on stage will be missed, but we are very proud of her many accomplishments and excited to see what she will continue to accomplish! Come join us April 8th and 9th, 2017, and witness the magnificent work that Lauren and her fellow company artists have accomplished these past few months in preparation for A Festival of Dance: our dancers will move you.

Where do you train?

During the week I train in the Bend area where I live, but I primarily train at June Taylor’s School of Dance.

When did you join NWDT?

I joined company in 2012 when I was in 8th grade.

What is your favorite role in A Festival of Dance?

Gamzatti in La Bayadère is my favorite role in A Festival of Dance. The role of Gamzatti is a delicate balance between grace and power, and I am grateful for the strength that I have gained from it. La Bayadère is a timeless ballet, and it’s an honor to perform this classic with the company. In addition, I’ve never had the opportunity to perform pas de deux or partnering work, and I’m looking forward to performing the pas de deux with Seth Parker.

What is your favorite company memory and performing role?

My favorite company memory and performing role was the Sugar Plum Fairy, which I performed during A Nutcracker Tea this last year. Performing this role had been a dream of mine since I was very young. Ever since I was seven years old, when I first saw the Moscow Ballet Company perform the Nutcracker in Reno, Nevada, I dreamed of one day dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy variation. After my first performance as Sugar Plum, I was overwhelmed by how amazing it felt to perform the role that I had dreamt of for so long.

Lauren Performing Sugar Plum Fairy in A Nutcracker Tea 2016 | Photo: Lindsay Hile Photography

Another favorite company memory of mine is being able to dance alongside my best friend, Sarah Valesano. We have had the opportunity to perform many duets together, as well as share numerous roles, and I have loved experiencing company with her.

What do you love most about performing?

Lauren and Sarah performing duet from Dennis Spaight’s “Gloria” as part of 2015 Spring Production Peter and the Wolf and Other Works.

I love the feeling when I first step on stage. The audience is completely captivated, and nothing else seems to matter…that is when I feel the most present and focused. It is an amazing experience to be able to transport your audience to another world through your dancing, and to share the timeless art of dance. Performing is truly exhilarating, and it is my favorite part about dancing.

What challenges have you learned to overcome as a dancer?

I’ve learned how to deal with the mental blocks that can develop when I am faced with an obstacle. As a dancer, I have been pushed with various roles, styles, and movements that are challenging both mentally and physically. I’ve learned how to have the tenacity to keep working and never give up, and I’ve seen that with enough hard work and faith in myself, I can achieve more than I once thought possible. It is always incredibly rewarding when I look back and realize that what were once my greatest challenges, are now part of my daily routine.

What lessons have you learned while dancing with NWDT, and how has this helped your dance training and academic studies?

NWDT has helped me build the strength and sense of commitment I need to dance in college and pursue a dance career. NWDT has been a pivotal part of my dance training, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today without NWDT and June Taylor’s School of Dance. As a dancer in NWDT I have learned that hard work, dedication, and passion are the keys to success. In order to be involved in NWDT, I’ve been commuting five hours round trip every weekend from Central Oregon while attending public school at Sisters High School. As a result, I miss at least one day of school each week, and I’ve had to develop time management and multitasking skills needed to maintain involvement in both school and dance. And all that work has paid off, as I’ve been nominated Valedictorian at my school! This entire experience has taught me how to be a self-starter in academics and dance, and it has helped me develop the work ethic needed to pursue both as fully as possible.

Who are you most thankful for and inspired by?

Lauren with NWDT Founder & Artistic Director June Taylor-Dixon after Solo Seal Exam February 2017.

In dance and in life, Miss June has been very inspiring to me. She exemplifies hard work and perseverance, and she is like a second mother figure to me. Her dedication to teaching, her students, and her passion for dance is incredible. There has never been a day where she hasn’t supported me through my endeavors, and she’s always there for all of her students in this way.

I’m also inspired by my Mom who has been by my side through everything. She has commuted with me back and forth every weekend between Bend and Tualatin for the past five years, while still being committed to her family and work. I am so thankful for my entire family – without the support of my Dad, Mom, and brother, none of this would be possible. I’m grateful that they’ve always encouraged me to follow my passion, and loved me unconditionally along the way. I will always be grateful for the unwavering support and encouragement from my family, and I am humbled by the selfless people that they are.

What are your future plans and goals?

I am going to attend Ballet West Academy’s summer program, and in the fall I will begin college at the University of Utah. I will be majoring in Ballet with a course emphasis that will enable me to go on to Physical Therapy and graduate work later on. At the moment, my primary goal is to pursue my passion for dance while I can.

What is on your mind as you prepare for your last NWDT performance?

I am grateful for all the opportunities NWDT has offered me, and the company will always hold a special place in my heart. I am also grateful for the people I’ve met along the way, such as Miss June and my fellow dancers, who have been with me on this journey. While it is sad to be preparing for my last NWDT performance, I am overcome by a feeling of gratitude for these last five years. On April 9th I may be taking my last bow as a company member, but NWDT has given me the strength and confidence to take the stage in the future.

 

Tickets for A Festival of Dance run $12-18 ($10 for youth)* and are available at nwdt.org/tickets. Showtimes are April 8 at 7pm to April 9 at 2pm at PCC Sylvania. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email tickets@nwdt.org for more information.

*Performance week special offer: Get one free youth ticket with one adult ticket purchase when you enter discount code “freechild”.