En Pointe with Tanya Howard
We’ve all been there. Compressed on a subway car, mourning over the morning news, late for work, again. The mundane, the banal, the ‘everyday.’ It’s everything Tanya Howard aims to eliminate with each
mind-bending plié. And she does so with the poetic pull of a playwright whose stories she tells without making a peep.
“What I love about the ballet world is it’s an escape. I would love for people to come and just not really see things the way they do – just sitting in traffic and seeing life go by – but just take a break from all of that and come to the ballet and see fantasy and love and sadness and desire and theatricality in a way that is so not everyday,” says Howard, first soloist with The National Ballet of Canada.
The idea of waking up every morning, slipping into intricately designed costumes day after day and performing in front of audiences that are in awe of your every move sound like a midsummer night’s dream come true. While Howard agrees that the craft she cultivated as a young child growing up in South Africa is ultra-rewarding, she makes a strong point to liken the rhythms and flows of ballet to the tempos found in all vocations. “Personally, I think that’s what’s most shocking about our job, is how sort of structured it is in the same way that your job or my husband’s job would be. Things need to happen at a certain time, and your rapport, how you come dressed to the rehearsal, what your attitude would be walking into a meeting … there are lots of similarities,” she says.
Howard, whose been with The National Ballet of Canada for 13 years, places emphasis on how we get up after we fall.
“I think how you recover in the moment is more what I would get upset about,” says Howard. “If you’re doing something new, [you may] tend to get a little nervous, but you can channel that in a good way and use that as excitement and to push yourself to rise to the occasion.”