Here at DanceWear Corner, we pride ourselves on having a staff that are versed in all things dance. Today we would like to introduce one of our new team members Paola McCormick, but first, check out this video of her dancing.
Tell us a little of your dance history.
I guess I have been dubbed our retail teams’ “bunhead”. I grew up first dancing recreationally which lead to intensive training at Ballet San Jose and a Traineeship followed by a couple graduate years at San Francisco Ballet School to finish off. Thanks to the technical training I received I got my first contract with Oklahoma City Ballet where I got to cross some special performances off of my bucket-list; Such as Giselle, demi-soloist Russian Girl in Serenade, demi-soloist in Midsummer Nights Dream and many more. Currently, I’m dancing with a new but quickly growing company in Orlando- United Ballet Theatre.
When did you start dancing? Was it love at first class?
As a toddler, I would put on daily “shows” in my living room. I would close the curtains and my mom would act as my stage manager as I directed her to follow me around with a “spotlight” (flashlight), start and stop my music….and give me a standing ovation at the end. She put me in creative movement classes which later evolved to Ballet 1 and it just continued on from there.
Name all of the dance related things you are apart of?
My whole life has been “dance related”. I started dancing at a young age, my brother followed (he is now a professional with English National Ballet), my mom was our chauffeur, chef, AND made all of our tutus & tunics. My dad worked really hard to be able to provide for all of my pointe shoes, my brother’s uniforms, and the rest of our dance related needs. To say that we are a “ballet family” is an understatement. Any accomplishment that my brother and I have had professionally has been a family affair because it is a testament to everyone’s hard work.
What was the most exciting thing that you have been a part of?
The most exciting thing I would say has been the opportunity to travel and be open to new experiences. My first taste of travel was as a student I went abroad through scholarships given to the Royal Ballet School in London and Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen. In my professional life, I have traveled and seen a lot if not most of the USA whether it be from being on tour, going on auditions, or seeing family and friends perform in their respective companies. I have career victories such as rewards, scholarships, or roles that have been given to me, but to me, the most exciting thing about this career is the places I’ve been fortunate enough to experience and the friends I have made throughout the journey that now extend all corners of the world.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself?
Most ballet dancers have a perfectionist type of personality. That’s not necessarily a bad thing- it leads us to be very determined, goal-oriented, productive people. However, it can easily be taken to an extreme, especially in the age of social media. I’m not sure people are aware of what it takes mentally to go onstage on opening night. I would tell my younger self to embrace the pressure and be present. Stop worrying about executing everything perfectly but rather to fully enjoy it at that moment- that’s where you reap the rewards of your hard work, simply let go and trust all of the time you’ve put into your craft.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I LOVE going hiking. I’m from Northern California where we have a magnitude of different landscapes, I first discovered hiking as a means of cross-training but then fell in love with the alone time it gave me with my thoughts and to connect with nature. If the terrain isn’t ideal for hiking *cough cough* Florida…reading outside by some nice scenery is a close second favorite thing to do.
If you could perform a duet with any dancer who would it be and why?
My brother and I performed the Sleeping Beauty Pas De Deux over half a decade ago. We have taken class together since but it might be fun to actually perform together in the future.
You can pick up a phone and talk to your number one dance idol -living or dead- but you can only ask them three questions. What are the three questions you would ask them? Why?
Marienela Nunez!!! She’s always been, my favorite ballerina. She’s had a career with The Royal Ballet for over 2 decades and has never missed a season, never once had a serious injury, and has stayed with the company through four directors- rising through the ranks to become one of its stars. Her career is a testament to intelligent work for longevity. That’s without forgetting to mention that aside from being SUCH skillful technician, she’s a deeply lyrical and beautiful actress.
I would ask her more about her early career at ROH when she danced in the corps de ballet, and soloist positions before being promoted to principal. Perhaps about what her mentality was like back then to continue excelling and growing and how it differs to the mentality, she might have today as a more mature artist. I’d ask her about her diet and cross-training regimen and what she advises for a long and healthy career, as she has proven to have. And lastly, I’d ask her more how she has made London feel like a home after leaving her home country of Argentina.