Where Are They Now? Ballet BC Alumni // Simone Orlando

Ballet Kelowna’s newly-appointed Artistic Director and CEO, Simone Orlando, will begin her position on September 1, but before Simone takes an exciting new leap forward in her career, we wanted to reflect on her 13 years of dance with Ballet BC. We interviewed Simone about her defining moments in dance, her journey from stage to AD and CEO, and her thoughts on the direction of Ballet BC.

What was your favourite memory during your time with Ballet BC?
Hearing the first few notes of the live orchestra on the opening night of world premieres of ballets like Carmina Burana and A Streetcar Named Desire was both humbling and exhilarating.  It was an honour to dance principal roles in these ballets and others for Vancouver audiences and I cherish many memories and moments from my time on the Queen Elizabeth stage.

After training at the National Ballet School in Toronto, why did you choose to dance with Ballet BC? How does Ballet BC differ from other dance companies in Canada?
I joined Ballet BC because I was interested in working with John Alleyne and other contemporary ballet choreographers to gain insight into choreographic processes and be involved in the creation of new work. I think Ballet BC has always attracted artists, whether dancers or choreographers, who are willing to take risks and move outside of their comfort zone.

What are your thoughts on Ballet BC’s latest work under Emily Molnar’s artistic leadership?
As a creator, I enjoy watching and experiencing the work of many of today’s leading choreographers through Ballet BC’s programming.  Emily has done a great job building the Company’s repertoire while at the same time providing audiences, as well as the dancers, with opportunities to be exposed to new voices in dance.

2009 was also a big year for you – tell us about your shift from dancing to becoming an AD and CEO.
My performing career was cut short in 2009 due to an injury.  Since then, I have continued to choreograph and teach and in 2012, I went back to school to study business management full-time at BCIT.  I recently graduated and I am looking forward to starting my new job as Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Kelowna on September 1.

Though you won’t be dancing on stage for Ballet Kelowna, how involved will you be in the practice?  
In addition to overseeing all administrative aspects of the Company including marketing, development, and public relations, I will be in the studio each day teaching company class, choreographing new works, and rehearsing the dancers.  I will be more involved than ever!

How did being a professional dancer with Ballet BC help you in your career shift?
My time at Ballet BC taught me that there is always more to explore and learn about dance; it is an evolutionary process whereby each new creation builds upon the last and teaches you more about yourself as a person and an artist. I think this mindset, being willing and open to discover and understand new concepts and ideas, allowed me to excel in my recent studies at business school.

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
I am looking forward to moving to Kelowna and getting to know people in this community.  It will be exciting to work with the Board, staff, and dancers to build on Ballet Kelowna’s success and lead the Company into its next chapter.

What advice would you give aspiring artists today?
Always look for opportunities to learn and grow as a person outside of the world of dance.  Developing skills and interests that are non-dance related builds confidence and also serves to inform and enhance one’s approach and experience as an artist.

Congrats, Simone, on your journey ahead and thank you for the beautiful legacy you leave behind at Ballet BC!

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Photo by David Cooper
Simone Orlando. Photo by Emily Cooper