Get to know the dancers! The next conversation in our weekly Q&A series is with Madeline DeVries. Madeline has been with LINES Ballet since 2014 and we asked her to reflect on the evolution she’s experienced throughout those six years in the Company. Read on to learn what brings her moments of joy, her favorite place to tour, and more.
Why did you choose dance?
Dance brings me joy. Dance is my teacher. The many voices quiet. Peace. Dance is listening. Dance creates a life-giving energetic beam out of my soul.
When was the first time you were aware of movement?
I remember the sensation of doing a somersault for the first time. I was 3 years old. It is perhaps one of my earliest memories. There’s some fear attached to this memory, but also excitement! It was my first dance class ever.
When did you realize that dance was something that you wanted to seriously pursue?
For a long time dance was something I did without much thought. I enjoyed it and there was something natural about it that I loved, but I never took it too seriously. I kept walking through open doors and seeing where dance would lead me. It wasn’t until the door didn’t so easily open that I began to look at it with new eyes. There was a new drive within me, a fire, that began to ignite. It was then that I made a decision to pursue dance with all of me. I knew what I wanted. I started to explore new movement, foreign territory to a classically-trained ballerina. I was so excited to learn, and so open to the possibilities. I began to put all my energy into taking care of my body and saying ‘yes’ to any dance opportunity, even if it was small. Going through this season of my life is what eventually led me to LINES Ballet.
What happened when you came to LINES?
As I look back, it seems to make the most sense if I answer this question in three parts.
When I came to LINES, I was full of excitement. I felt brave and I took risks. I remember my first creation with the Company was Shostakovich. Alonzo had partnered me with Jeffrey and told me to run at him and jump. I remember having no second thoughts – I ran and flung myself across the room into his arms. I loved every minute of it. And my body and soul felt a connection with the movement. I felt like Alonzo was calling my true self out of me.
This part gets a little hairy. Fear slowly began to creep in. I had doubt, negative thoughts, and ultimately was dealing with a lot of anxiety. There were other factors, including some personal life stuff and my physical body ailing me with back pain. I was overwhelmed and I was letting my light dim. I was fighting with a low self-image and a lack of confidence. NOISE. All the while though, I was still fighting. Searching to find my voice and to break through what felt like a wall in front of my face when I danced.
I remember a specific performance where I felt different. It was in Paris and we were performing The Propelled Heart. I was actually sick with a bad cold. Feeling weak, tired, and low. My mom was there watching the show and I just remember that something ignited in me that night. I tapped into a deep place, pulling from that source to get me through. And I let everything else go. I danced my face off, with all my friends and Lisa Fischer’s voice; light broke through. It propelled me forward into bravery, vulnerability, newfound energy, love, and ultimately joy.
What are you doing that brings you joy?
Joy manifests itself in many forms for me. Being present and opening my eyes to the small things all around helps me to see joy in all circumstances.
Some examples of late: puzzles, laughing at myself for thinking salsa could be tomato soup, watching my plant grow a new leaf, re-finding my joy of milk, jump roping in the street, wearing multiple outfits a day, staying up late, writing, midnight walks, finger painting, getting rid of stuff in my room, it being so windy that sand spits in my face, thinking about whales, watching the trash man, noise-canceling headphones, learning French, buying a lava lamp, calling my mom, beach walks with my roommates, cooking a nice meal at golden hour with a nice outfit on and a glass of Rosé, and most of all dancing in the street.
What food dish are you famous for?
With my roommates, I’m famous for making amazing popcorn and maybe garlic broccoli.
Can you share something that you have found helpful in living life on planet earth?
It’s hard living on this planet. I see deep pain and suffering in humanity and even our earth responds with groaning. Life is a search for purpose, value, identity… Something I find encouraging amongst all the voices and noise is to slow down. Tangible things like drying my hands fully with the hand dryers before exiting the bathroom, sitting in silence palms open upwards before starting the day, and then leaving the house with enough time to walk slowly to the bus to notice things I don’t usually notice. If we desire to see healing in our world, I think it must start in our own hearts. Slowing down helps me do heart work. Also rotate my mattress, floss, and pray for wisdom.
Do you have a preference between solo, group, or pas?
There’s something about each one that is very special to me. However I don’t think I have a preference.
Can anything ever be a solo?
That’s an interesting question. If you take the lens and zoom out, and consider the collective us that we hope to be, I’d say nothing is just a solo. It may become a solo when the focus is lost. When I say ‘collective us’, I mean the community – striving towards a like-minded goal where everyone is giving and has their own voice, but that together is one. We are all on this planet together. We are better together.
Where is your favorite place to tour and why?
France. I have a map of France in my room with all the pins in the cities we’ve visited. Every time we go back, I feel more comfortable and excited all over again. I am learning the language, but even without being able to communicate with people, there’s a beauty I see in France that I love. I often dream about living there one day.
What sense do you get from different audiences on tour?
There are some audiences that are full of students. I love those shows a lot. They hoot and holler and stand at the stage door eager for signatures in programs. Then there are some audiences in Europe where I have thought, are they all asleep out there? But then they shock me at the end of the show with a standing ovation and three curtain calls! But I love when we are in a giant theater, it’s pitch dark out there, and the energy from the audience is palpable and alive. Every audience has a different energy and they have all come with each of their own individual stories. It’s an amazing privilege to dance for so many people all over the world.
BIO: Madeline DeVries grew up in Southern California studying at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy. She continued her training at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and PNBS Professional Division program on full scholarship, spending summers with the Houston Ballet, The Rock School, PNB, and National Ballet of Canada. DeVries apprenticed with the Semperoper Ballet in Dresden, Germany in 2012, and in 2013 she danced with the Seattle based contemporary companies Whim W’Him and Coriolis. DeVries joined LINES Ballet in 2014.
Photos: © RJ Muna
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