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Dance: High Pointe

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Krista Baker
Courtesy Kat Armend Ariz/Nevada Ballet Theatre

A dancer’s lifetime of creation pays off for Nevada Ballet Theatre

Krista Baker joined Nevada Ballet Theatre 15 years ago, at age 17. Right off the bat, she choreographed a number for the precursor to what would become A Choreographer’s Showcase, and she’s done 10 other works for the company since. She grew up in a ballet family — her mother trained her — and says she started creating dance pieces when she was about 6. That lifetime of creation comes to fruition in February, when Baker will stage her untitled piece as part of NBT’s Bolero program, the first time the company premiers a member’s original work. A day before the opening of this year’s Nutcracker, for which she’s the repetiteur, she talked about her own evolution and that of other women in her field.

It’s been an interesting decade for women from all walks of life. What has it been like in ballet?

I got really lucky with the directors we’ve had who, through my time at Nevada Ballet Theatre, have always seen something in me for dancing or choreographing, so I’ve been given a lot of opportunity here. … It’s nice to see more female choreographers, because women tend to rule the ballet world, but there are a lot of male choreographers. Who understands more about dancing on a pointe shoe than someone who’s actually done it?

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How does your experience as a dancer inform your choreography?

I’ve always loved, as a dancer, when you’re learning new choreography, and the director will ask you, How does that feel in your body? Because we all have very certain ways we like to move. And some ways of moving are more comfortable or feel more natural. So, I always try to do that for the dancers I’m working with. That’s the beauty of being able to create something new with the dancers that you have. You can make them look the best that they can possibly look. 

When I see your production in February, what should I watch for?

The pieces that I’ve loved are visualizations of music. I’ve found music that I have yet to tire of, and it still sparks creativity, so that’s why I’m holding onto it. I’m not going for something to shock the audience. My goal is for them to enjoy listening and watching and walk away having felt something.

How does the first number that you did back in 2007 compare with what you’re doing today?

I’m a much more confident choreographer now. I still look back at that piece and I love it, which, I feel, is very rare. I go back and watch that piece and think that could restage it, but now I’m much more critical of myself because I know the level of the company is much higher. I don’t let things go as easily as I used to. 

You’re already an accomplished dancer and choreographer. What’s next for you as an artist?

I don’t know. This season so far has been my favorite, based on what I’m getting to do. I get to dance, I get to stage Nutcracker, and I also get to choreograph. So, I’d love to just continue doing that for however long I can.

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