Ballerina Lydia Wellington always gravitated toward the arts. Growing up in New York City, she began her dance training at the School of American Ballet (SAB) at the age of 7. She later attended LaGuardia High School for visual arts, taking the subway with her mother every day and understanding that she was in the center of one of the greatest performing arts cities in the world. Now, Wellington has been a member of the New York City Ballet (NYCB) for the past 11 years, grateful that she gets to have a career doing what she loves.
“I became an apprentice with New York City Ballet in June 2008, and joined the company as a member of the corps de ballet in October 2008,” said Wellington, who during her tenure at SAB, performed children’s roles in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, as well as performing with the ballet in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Jerome Robbins’ 2 & 3 Part Inventions and Fanfare and Christopher Wheeldon’s Scènes de Ballet. “The wide range of repertoire we dance from day to day whether it be classical ballets or contemporary programs always keeps it really interesting.”
Although she is a prima ballerina now, Wellington admitted that she didn’t like ballet until the age of 10, as she was held back and separated from her friends, meaning that she would miss her turn at going on pointe. However, she was still excited to keep learning her craft.
“I learned flamenco, jazz and modern that summer and other forms of dance that I wasn’t introduced to, which changed my outlook on dance,” she said. “I found it more exciting, the fact that I get to do a live range of choreography.”
Until Feb. 24, Wellington will be practicing Peter Martins’ choreography for The Sleeping Beauty, the classic fairytale with music composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. She will be dancing several major roles including the Queen and the Fairy of Generosity, the latter of which marks her third year in the role.
“I love being the fairy because it’s a very simple variation of not too many steps but each one is very delicate and you can enhance the movement as much as you want,” she said of the slow and gracious choreography. “You can play with that role and make it yours.”
In the off season, Wellington enjoys traveling and immersing herself in new cultures. For those aspiring dancers one day dreaming of being in her ballet shoes, Wellington says to enjoy living in the moment of ballet as much as you can.
“It is such a hard profession and I think that if you can enjoy the training and opportunities that come your way as a child, growing up in the art, that’s a very important thing. You never want to leave ballet with regrets,” she said. “Let dance become a very happy memory that will push you forward into a career and that’s when others will see how much you love it, too.”
For tickets, visit www.nycballet.com.