Posted on December 10, 2017 by mlennon
Is there anything better than discovering your gift and making it your passion from a young age? The Sugar Plum Fairy doesn’t think so; she’s been doing just that since the age of two. Not only that, but she’s got other passions she’s been pursuing as well, since she became a student at Providence College School of Continuing Education in 2010.
The “fairy” – Kirsten Evans of Seekonk, Massachusetts – just completed her 18th year as a ballerina in the Festival Ballet Providence (FBP) production of The Nutcracker; it was her second year playing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy (along with the Dew Drop Fairy and, for the first time, the Snow Queen).
“I started dancing when I was two years old at a local studio in my hometown, mainly because my sister was in classes and I was always trying to fight my way in,” Evans says. “My mom signed me up as soon as I was old enough. She took me to see The Nutcracker when I was really young, and I said ‘I’m going to do that someday.’ I fell in love with ballet through Festival Ballet Providence’s Nutcracker at the Providence Performing Arts Center.”
When she was eight, Evans went to an open audition for the production, and has been dancing in it ever since.
“It’s fun because I’ve done all the children’s roles and a lot of the company parts now too,” she says.
Evans was invited to join the company at FBP as a trainee right after she graduated high school in 2010, and became an apprentice the next year. By 2012 she was a full company member. She’s been living her dream ever since, training under world-renowned dancers at FBP as well as at the Nutmeg Conservatory and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. She’s performed in FBP productions of Swan Lake, Giselle, and Viktor Plotnikov’s Carmen and The Widow’s Broom, among others.
Exciting and fulfilling as ballet has been for Evans, it hasn’t been her only focus in life.
She’s also been enrolled at Providence College School of Continuing Education since right after high school as well, slowly but steadily pursuing a Liberal Studies degree, with the intent of perhaps someday working in the field of journalism.
“I applied to a bunch of colleges during my junior year of high school, not knowing if I would join Festival or not,” Evans says. “When I got the offer to join the company I couldn’t turn it down, and I’m really glad I didn’t. Now that I’m a dancer I can’t imagine not having this career. But I also didn’t want to let that part of me go that was really invested in my education. I think for a lot of dancers, ballet is what they’ve always wanted to do and there’s no plan B. But I always really liked school.”
Enrolling at PC SCE allowed Evans to do both. She’s been taking classes online and in the evenings as her dance schedule would allow for the last seven years.
“The class schedule and course offerings were so much broader than any of the other schools that I looked at and so much more flexible. I also thought the campus was so beautiful,” Evans says of her choice to apply to PC SCE.
“I’m trying really hard to graduate before I make it to ten years!” she jokes.
She may make that deadline, too; her adviser at SCE has projected a possible graduation date of May, 2019 if she can continue to maintain her current course load.
“It’s really hard to balance school with my schedule at ballet; I’m training five, six, seven hours a day. But it’s important to me to finish school. There’s something about being in school and how studying opens up your mind and makes you think about the world. I definitely appreciate that and I’m just trying to soak it up while I’m still in it,” Evans says.
So, what happens after graduation?
“I’m not positive what I want to do, but I really like writing. I have a blog and I would love to write a book – that might be a little ambitious but it’s a dream of mine. This semester I did an internship with Festival Ballet, working as a PR and Marketing Assistant. I got to connect my life at the ballet with everything I’ve learned at SCE, and it’s been a great experience,” Evans says.
“After I’m done with school I don’t know if I’ll continue in the ballet world. Sometimes I think it might be fun to do something completely different, but at the same time I love ballet so much and it’s such a huge part of my identity. But it might be fun to break away,” she says, trailing off uncertainly.
For now, Evans remains focused on her upcoming productions with FBP.
“Our next show in February is called Director’s Choice; for me that’s the most exciting program in our season this year. It’s a triple bill, so it’s three different ballets in one night. Then we’ll be doing The Little Prince as another installment of our children’s performances, an Up Close on Hope performance, and in the spring, The Little Mermaid,” she says.
All the while Evans – who this year was inducted into Eta Lambda, SCE’s continuing education honor society – remains an inspiration to both young ballerinas and those who are working hard to earn a degree, no matter how long it may take – because not only is natural talent a gift, but so is the opportunity to learn and to grow in new and different ways.
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