The Academy of Dance Arts
Q&A With Elizabeth Knight
We recently caught up with our new Faculty member, ELIZABETH KNIGHT and asked her some questions.
Q. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DANCING?
A. I've been dancing for most of my life. I started ballet when I was 3, and then began studying more seriously at age 8. I retired from the stage several years ago. Though I miss performing, I'm so grateful to be able to remain involved in this beautiful art form through teaching.
Q. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DANCE?
A. Originally, music is what inspired me to dance. Some of my earliest memories are of dancing along to my grandpa playing the accordion. Then, after I saw the Nutcracker for the first time as a young girl, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be a ballet dancer.
Q. WHO IS YOUR DANCE ROLE MODEL?
A. I've always admired the Balanchine ballerina, Maria Tallchief. I remember writing a book report about her in 3rd grade. I was impressed with her unique story, since she was the first Native American ballerina, and was a strong, athletic, and beautiful dancer. I always thought it was pretty neat that her birth name was the same as mine, Elizabeth Marie. When I was dancing professionally for Lyric Opera, I had the thrill of getting to meet her in person when she came to watch a rehearsal of Samson and Delilah.
Q. WHEN DID YOU GET YOUR FIRST PROFESSIONAL GIG?
A. My first professional gig was when I got my first AGMA contract, dancing in the Ruth Page Foundation's Nutcracker at the Arie Crown Theatre. I did 20 plus performances and was cast as a Snowflake and Chinese dancer. It was a wonderful experience.
Q. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TELL YOUNGER DANCERS WHO HAVE BIG ASPIRATIONS?
A. I would tell younger dancers that because ballet is so demanding and all-encompassing, it's really important to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. I remember dancing through pain too often, and being too hard on myself at times. Young dancers should be sure to listen to their bodies, and give themselves grace when things don't turn out perfectly.
Q. WHAT IS ONE FUN FACT ABOUT YOU?
A. One fun fact about me is that my favorite coffee drink is called a mélange, a Viennese coffee drink made from espresso or coffee, steamed milk, foam, sprinkled with cocoa powder, served on a silver tray. The best ones are in Austria of course (my brother and his family happen to live there), but Julius Meinl in the city has them too and they're delicious.
Elizabeth Knight - Ballet Master Instructor
Elizabeth Knight is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She trained on scholarship at Milwaukee Ballet School, Houston Ballet Academy, San Francisco Ballet School, Pennsylvania Ballet School, Princeton Ballet School, the School of American Ballet, and Steps on Broadway, as well as with her coach, Yves de Bouteiller. Ms. Knight was trained by renowned and diverse instructors, including Margaret McLaughlin, Clara Cravey, Lola de Avila, Gloria Govrin, Jeffrey Lyons, Suki Schorer, Stanley Williams, Nancy Bielski, David Howard, and Willy Burmann. As a high school senior, Ms. Knight was one of six ballet dancers chosen, nationwide, to be a National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts awardee. Ms. Knight also participated in the Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition in Lausanne, Switzerland, the U.S. International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, and was a finalist in The Second Japan International Ballet and Modern Dance Competition in Nagoya, Japan. Ms. Knight has danced with Milwaukee Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, Dance As Ever (NYC), Chicago Festival Ballet, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Alma Dance, Ballet Legere, Elements Contemporary Ballet, Schaumburg Dance Ensemble, and Dallas Opera. Her repertoire includes leading roles in Nutcracker, Cinderella, Esmeralda, Grand Pas Classique, and Swan Lake, as well as roles in Stars and Stripes, The Four Temperaments, Serenade, Billy the Kid, Where the Wild Things Are, Carmina Burana, and the operas Aida, Samson and Delilah, and Carmen. Ms. Knight previously taught for VH Dance Center, Salt Creek Ballet School, and Hinsdale Dance Center. She also has her Master's in Teaching from National-Louis University and was previously an elementary school teacher and elementary school dance teacher for Chicago Public Schools. Ms. Knight lives with her husband and two young children in Naperville. She is looking forward to sharing her knowledge, experience, and love of ballet with the students of ADA!