We’ve saved the best for last. In this final installment of our “Becoming Juliet” interview with principal dancer Samantha Galler, we learn how personal the role has become and that there’s no room for nerves.
AB: How do you prepare for Juliet outside of rehearsal?
SG: Preparing for a role like Juliet takes concentration inside and outside the studio. When I leave the ballet every day I like to write down Tracey’s and Roger’s comments from that day. It is important to keep your mind going when not in rehearsal. It is like when actors have to become a character for a movie; they sleep, eat, and breathe like that character would. It is important that I do that on every level so that I am most prepared for rehearsals and performances. I also video tape my rehearsals when I can and send them to my teacher Frances Kotelly, who I mentioned earlier, for feedback.
AB: What is the most difficult part about this role?
SG: The most difficult part about this role is depicting something in just a few seconds and doing it so well that the story is able to transition appropriately. Three pivotal scenes where this happens include the end of the Balcony scene in Act I, the moment where Juliet decides to take the poison/sleeping potion in Act III, and the death scene in Act III. These scenes each have a split second where something changes in Juliet and it gives the audience the answer. In the Balcony scene, Juliet develops from a timid girl to a girl in love with Romeo. Although the whole scene shows her development, the kiss at the end basically locks in her decision and this couple of seconds leads to the rest of the story. In the death scene, dancers must visualize themselves in a tomb which is pretty frightening. Along with that, a dancer must understand the horror of death and portray a heart wrenching realization. This should give the audience goose bumps and hopefully make them cry.
For me, the death scene is by far the most difficult scene. It is difficult because I have to break down the idea and come face to face with death. I try and use my real life experiences. For example, when my closest friend, Janine, died at age 17, I was so distraught. I still am every day because it was a tragedy. When I stab myself at the end of the ballet, I do it because I decide on my own that I cannot possibly live without the love of my life. This is the only way to be with him. The hardest part is understanding that there is no right or wrong way to portray it.
AB: What are you most looking forward to in this Ballet?
SG: I am most looking forward to dancing the entire ballet all the way through and living it. There is always something that comes out only on stage because a dancer becomes so involved in the story that emotions take over. Sometimes, an entirely new emotion comes out that was not rehearsed and this makes it interesting.
AB: What are you most nervous about?
SG: I am not nervous at all because I know I am going to get to perform it and I have a partner that will be there for me. I do always get a little worried for the scenes where I have to run up and down the stairs.
Alabama Ballet presents Roger Van Fleteren’s Romeo + Juliet this weekend. For more information, visit our website.