Ballet Dreams

Kaelyn Yocom always knew that she wanted to be a dancer. Born in Carmel, California, she began her ballet training around the age of seven and embarked on her dance career right out of high school. After several years with her first company, which was based in Utah, she landed her current position with Ballet Arizona. Now, she performs throughout the year and is passionate about the art she creates for the people of Arizona.

WOD: When did you realize you wanted to be a ballet dancer?
Yocum: It was really early on actually, kind of from my first exposure to ballet and dance. I realized I wanted to keep doing this and this is so much fun, I can see myself doing this forever. For me, it was the really early on realization that I knew this is what I wanted to do.

WOD: When did you get your first job in dance?
Yocum: It was right out of high school. I graduated and auditioned for a job and I got accepted into a company in Utah. I was there for several years and then I thought, “I want to see what else is out there.” That’s when I thought Ballet Arizona could be a wonderful place to dance in for several years. That was because of so many reasons. One, we have such an amazing staff. Two, we have this wonderful repertoire where you get to do classical ballet or temporary ballet and I really wanted to expand and do more.

WOD: What’s been your toughest day as a dancer?
Yocum: As a dancer we all go through days when things just aren’t working. We’re trying our hardest, but maybe we can’t do a triple pirouette or we can’t quite pick up the choreography that we need to right then and there. That happens often, so there’s no single day that sticks out, there are just days where you have to keep pushing against the things that aren’t working. I think that’s a key component as a professional, you don’t let those things that are getting you down stop you from progressing. You have to keep moving forward and learn to deal with things that aren’t working.

WOD: What are you most passionate about?
Yocum: For me, it’s not a job. Yes it’s my full time nine to five career but it’s more of my way of life. It’s such a part of who I am and what I love to do where it’s not necessarily work. There are things that are challenging and you work on but it’s just a pleasure to do. It makes me happy to do, to perform especially.

WOD: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Yocum: It’s the classical ballets. The ones that have the three acts and there’s this huge dramatic story. You get to be a character on stage and you get to tell a story, you portray that to the audience. Ballets like Giselle, Swan Lake, these timeless ballets that we’re still doing hundreds of years later and a modern audience can still find something to connect with. It’s timeless ballets with timeless elements in them.

WOD: What inspires you to keep dancing?
Yocum: Well, my love for the art form. It’s something I love to do so I want to do it for as long as possible. When I’m dancing it’s the music that inspires me to continue. The music is such a huge inspiration for the piece we’re working on and the feelings that the music stirs in me and creates. Of course, when I’m out there performing and I hear the audience being really receptive and enjoying it and clapping. Or, if there’s a funny part they’re laughing. I think that’s such a cool exchange between the audience and the performer.

WOD: What kind of impact do you hope your work will generate?
Yocum: My hope is whenever an audience member leaves the theater they come away feeling inspired. I think arts in general can do that for people. I think that’s why people go to the movies, or sporting events, or live alley performances. They want to see something inspiring and wonderful and it also offers an escape.