Story enticed Meagan Helman into dance. The Tallahassee Ballet’s School Director watched “Sleeping Beauty” at age 8, and as an avid reader of mysteries and the classics, she delighted in witnessing beloved storybook characters spring to life. As she left the theater, Helman proudly declared to her mother that she would be onstage one day. One professional ballet career later, Helman is still exercising her imagination as a choreographer and dance educator.
“I always enjoyed dancing the story ballets because I liked stepping outside of myself for a little bit to become someone else,” says Helman. “I received the most opportunities for that through ballet.”
Music is Helman’s primary muse when it comes to crafting movement. Her father played piano, infusing her childhood home with classical music. Helman gravitates towards driving, energetic rhythms. As a choreographer for the Tallahassee Ballet’s “An Evening of Music & Dance,” she’ll premiere a work set to the music of Béla Bartók.
Performances are Friday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 8 at 2:30 p.m. in Opperman Music Hall. The evening is an annual collaboration between the Tallahassee Ballet and FSU’s College of Music, this year under the music direction of Deloise Lima. Helman remembers seeing the event for the first time in Fall 2015.
“I experienced it as a photographer,” explains Helman, who continues to find new angles in ballet from behind a camera lens. “Photographing dance has been a great way to transition away from performing, and having been a performer, I can anticipate what’s coming. I can watch the rhythm of [a dancer’s] steps and know when a jump is going to happen.”
Helman trained in ballet, contemporary and jazz dance in a performing arts middle and high school. Movement coaxed her out of her introverted shell and served as an outlet for expression. She continued her education at Goucher College in Baltimore where she earned a BA in dance with a concentration in arts administration.
Upon graduation, she began auditioning for ballet companies. Helman joined the Ballet Theater of Maryland and danced with the company for eleven years, performing as a principal dancer—the highest achievable rank. Among her favorite roles was Swanilda from the ballet “Coppelia” for its comedic and technically challenging movement. Helman also served as the company’s ballet mistress during her tenure.
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