Ariana’s Pointe of View

Ariana Lallone is famous for her stunning 24-year career as a ballerina with Pacific Northwest Ballet.  More recently she has graced the mirror-topped spiegeltent in both our dinner performances and kid-centric concert series. This spring she has taken flight as an aerialina (ballerina + aerialist =aerialina) in our newest production, Dinner at Wotan’s. Ariana documented her magical transformation and shared it with us to share with you. Without further ado, here is Ariana’s Pointe of View:

Ariana en pointe.  Photo credit: Keith Brofsky

Ariana en pointe.
Photo credit: Keith Brofsky

As I was working towards my final bow at Pacific Northwest Ballet, I was so grateful to know I was only months away from embarking on a new adventure. I loved my life as a ballerina, and deep in my heart I knew it was too soon for me to stop performing. Providing joy to an audience and giving young children their first memory of a ballet were some of the most important parts of my career. It gave me tremendous meaning not only as a performer, but also as a person. My passion never faded.  I knew I would miss that beyond measure.

Two months after my last performance at PNB, I had my first rehearsal at Teatro ZinZanni. I had always been a huge fan of ZinZanni, and now I was in rehearsal with some of my favorite performers. I was awe struck. Not to mention, I was working under the direction of Tommy Tune. I could only think, “How on earth is a ballerina going to fit in this magical tent with all these amazingly talented people?”

Immediately, I was embraced with love, support and most importantly – encouragement. It was only a matter of days before my first name was dropped; I simply became “Ballerina.”  I was handed a bass drum to play in the opening (after a small stint with a triangle that didn’t work out so well) and given lyrics to learn for songs I would sing. Luckily, it all happened so fast, I just did it without thinking about nerves. I was, however, very aware that my world was opening in a new and exciting direction.

After 118 shows of Bonsoir Liliane!, another end seemed near.  I had formed intense friendships with our cast, and the thought of not working with them again was too painful to think about. I set a new goal. I wanted a chance to do another show.

This ballerina is flying! Photo credit: Keith Brofsky

This ballerina is flying!
Photo credit: Keith Brofsky

I wanted to expand my ballet act – I wanted to push the boundaries of my ballet/pointe work, I wanted to see if I could move off center, travel, turn, and possibly jump within the space of the tent. In order to do these things, I knew I needed something to assist me. I chose a lyra. It was not my intent to become an aerialist, but I thought I might be able to use the lyra as my “partner”… as if it and I were dancing a pas de deux.

Over the next 12 months, I discovered endless possibilities and impossibilities… it was not easy! Adjusting to spinning/turning without spotting, being upside down 15 feet above the floor, and most importantly gaining upper body strength. were new challenges. I worked with Lexi Pearl, an aerial coach in Los Angeles and Jonathan Porretta, my friend and former coworker at PNB, who helped with the ballet choreography. I then relied on Anne Gish, a back stage manager at Teatro ZinZanni who operates the winch that raises and lowers the lyra, to wait patiently while I united these two art forms. Certain ideas that I thought would work, became impossible, yet I found perfect symmetry with others. It was at times frustrating and at times exhilarating! With perseverance, an intense desire to make it work, and much encouragement… I slowly carved out my act. The end result has meant another opportunity for me to perform with Teatro ZinZanni. I am beyond excited to premiere my new act and look forward to further creations with my new “partner.”

As rehearsals began for Dinner at Wotan’s, I was/am so grateful for the opportunity to meet a new cast of performers and be a part of the process of building a new show. This ballerina is flying high!

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8 comments on “Ariana’s Pointe of View

  1. April Kieburtz says:

    This is inspirational for all who are ready to take a new direction. We can’t wait to come and admire your incredible artistry in this new movement form! Congratulations!

    • Teatro ZinZanni Seattle says:

      Ariana is just amazing overall. Her hard work and dedication to her craft really shine through in all of her performances.

  2. Elaine Phelps says:

    We wish Ariana had not left PNB at all, and we miss her very special artistry, but it’s good to know that her talents are still available to the public in a new venue that gives her exciting challenges.

  3. Dianne Chilgren says:

    Ariana was always hardworking and dedicated to her dancing…..so I am not surprised that she continues this work ethic at Teatro ZinZanni…..

  4. Ariana, you are definitely missed by the PNB audience and the young dancers you inspired at the school! Congratulations to you on pushing yourself to new heights (in every sense!)

  5. Amy Sparks says:

    Way to go Ariana! Glad you landed on your feet (so to say) after PNB. I loved your performances in Carmina Burana & Lambarena especially. Went to a dinner show for my birthday last summer & asked about you & if you would be doing a show in the future. So glad you are doing another show, will have to make a dinner reservation. ; )

  6. Judy and Arnie says:

    It takes courage, wisdom and strength of body and of character to reinvent oneself and to do it in a way that one’s original integrity does not get lost. Way to go, Ariana. You did and are doing it! I predict you will continue to fly higher and higher! We will most definitely come see your performance.

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