IBA: Congratulations, Gabby, on being featured in IBA's Student Spotlight for February. How long have you been dancing, and where did you dance before coming to IBA?
GW: Thank you so much; it is an honored to be featured! I have been dancing since the age of 2, so dance has been a part of my life for 16 years now. Before coming to IBA, I danced with the South Georgia Ballet for 6 years, and before that, I danced with the Dance Academy.
IBA: You’ve been with us for over a year now. Was it difficult making the adjustment to a new city, new school, and a new studio?
GW: Moving to a new place is never easy, and it definitely was a challenge getting used to a new environment, but Greenville is a wonderful city and I couldn’t be happier to now call this place home. I’ll admit that I was intimidated by the thought of moving to a new studio, especially this late in my training, but IBA couldn’t have made me feel more welcome. Learning all the terminology was a challenge during the first few months here; the Vaganova style is very specific, and every move is so deliberate with its direction. It can be a lot to digest. But when you see how an ensemble moves with such beauty and precision, you realize how important each “little thing” (like a head being exactly where it should be at a certain time) really is to the whole picture.
IBA: What have been your best moments as a dancer?
GW: When I was in 8th grade, I had the opportunity to participate in an International Ballet Competition in Orlando and Daytona, Florida called the American Dance Competition. I performed the La Esmeralda variation and also an original contemporary solo. It was the first time I had ever performed onstage by myself, and the experience was one I will never forget. I ended up receiving a gold score for my ballet variation, which was really cool for me, especially since it was my first solo! Another memorable experience in my dance career thus far was having the opportunity to perform the "Odalisque Pas De Trois" from Le Corsaire alongside the Acker twins for the SERBA 2016 Final Gala. Being Lydia and Logan’s “triplet” is always such a pleasure! I feel very fortunate to have the chance to dance beside them here at IBA.
IBA: Who are the biggest influences in your life?
GW: My parents are definitely the greatest influences in my life. I am so blessed to be raised by such amazing examples of the kind of person I hope to become.
IBA: There are other ballet studios in the area. Why did you choose IBA?
GW: I chose IBA because I saw such focus and drive in the students from the moment I walked into the studio. All the dancers at IBA are here because they truly love to dance and strive for greatness; the work ethic and enthusiasm of the students and faculty here is incomparable, and being here has reminded me just how much dance means to me.
IBA: What is your favorite ballet, and, if you could, what role would you dance in it?
GW: I’m not sure I could ever pick just one ballet as my favorite… I’m so indecisive, haha! But if I had to choose an absolute favorite, I guess I’d have to say The Sleeping Beauty. If I could, I’d love to be the Lilac Fairy… or Aurora-- I go back and forth all the time. I also love the ballet, Coppelia, and Swanhilda’s spunky character; I think that would be a fun role to play as well.
IBA: What motivates you, Gabby? What do you see as your biggest strength and your biggest weakness?
GW: I like to think of myself as a silently competitive dancer; a lot of my motivation comes from observing others’ success and desiring the same success for myself. I love to watch other people improve; it inspires me and reminds me to strive to improve a little everyday as well. I would say my biggest weakness is that I have never been able to “leave my problems outside the studio”. A lot of people say that they love to dance because it allows them to forget about their problems or the outside world for a while, and I hope that someday I will be able to do the same-- its a work in progress. I think my biggest strength would have to be my willingness to try new things as it pertains to dance, whether that be a new dance style or fancy partnering step. I like to see each new experience as an opportunity to grow as a dancer; I think that in order to become the artists that we are truly meant to be, we must remain fearlessly open minded.
IBA: Just for fun, complete this sentence. "Ballet would be better without _____________."
GW: Painfully slow adagio. I think that one kind of speaks for itself in my case… #shortgirlproblems
IBA: What advice do you have for younger ballet students?
GW: There were a lot of times when I was growing up that I wondered if my dedication to dance was really worth missing out on the “regular kid” activities like birthday parties, sleepovers, or just having free time in general (haha!). All I can say after all these years is that ballet has enriched my life in ways that not many can or ever will understand. You have to know for yourself that if you absolutely love what you are doing, it will always be worth the struggles that go along with it.
IBA: Finally, Gabby, do you have any goals or plans for the future in regard to dance that you want to share with us?
GW: I hope to continue dancing in college this fall. Whether I will dance on campus or off, I’m not so sure about yet; but wherever I end up, dance will continue to be a significant part of my life. I still have so much to learn!
IBA: Thank you, Gabby. Congratulations for being chosen for our Student Spotlight and best of luck to you. We are looking forward to watching you dance with International Ballet this spring.
Gabrielle Wimberly in "Odalisque Pas de Trois" (Photo by Richard Calmes)