Meet Kat Wildish Part I

While legions of better-off-for-it ballet students know her as a teacher, Kat Wildish had a dazzling 40-year performing career, during which she danced with the American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Zurich Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and many other companies. Her advice about performing and an effective ballet work ethic is not only uncommonly well-founded, it also provides spectacular guidance and inspiration that can be applied to all aspects of life-on and off the stage.

Her counsel is unflaggingly realistic and compassionate. In a recent class, she instructed students to glance behind their right shoulders to check if they could see their left feet in the proper position of a back attitude. When some students didn't take the direction literally and left their faces locked in place, focused on balancing, Kat remarked pointedly, "people like me can have 40-year careers because some young dancers don't take instructions and the details of their lines suffer for it." Lesson number one: Listen to your instructors!

A dancer's approach to learning and growth is paramount, in the studio and the theater. Regarding performing, Kat says, "it's a responsibility...and it's tough!" But it's exhilarating and always a learning experience if you're doing it right. "When I first started touring I was 14. There was a thing called Ballet Gala that toured through Florida and the southern sates. And the producer pulled together great stars from different companies (luminaries like Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn, Cynthia Gregory, and Fernando Bujones) and he took on a 'small,' a young up-and-coming, and he chose me for several years because the crowds just adored me. To stand back stage and know you're sharing the stage with all these amazing dancers, you can stand in the wings and learn so much by watching!"

Why was she such a crowd favorite? Click here to find out!