Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.
Kylee Kitchens joined Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2000 at just 19, she was admittedly not the self-assured performer she is today. Pointe asked her to share some career highlights before she retires to spend time with her 21-month-old, Simon.
What will you be dancing for your last show?
When I told Peter [Boal] I was retiring, he asked if there was anything I had my heart set on. Seth Orza and I danced Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux just once in Vail, after a few dancers got injured, so it feels really special to get a second turn at it.
What will you miss most about being a dancer?
The relationships that I’ve made. I’ve been here for 16 years, so I have dancers who are essentially my family and my sisters. We’ve spent all the holidays together. I’m definitely going to miss dancing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the people that make it special, who you go through this career with.
What were your most fun roles?
Lady Capulet, which I just danced in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette. She’s powerful, strong, intense, and I was pegged more as a lyrical dancer. You have to be able to command the stage differently, and I think I was able to do that later in my career. And Afternoon of a Faun just fit like a glove. It was right before I got promoted. Some dancers got injured, and Jerome Tisserand and I were bumped basically from fourth cast to doing opening night.
Any memories that stand out?
Doing Jardi Tancat for the first time. When we were in school, Lindsi Dec and I would sit in the wings and watch the company do it. When we were finally dancing it–and doing it together in the same cast–it was a really emotional moment.
If you could look back and give your younger self advice, what you would it be?
I think I lacked a little bit of self-confidence when I first joined the company. I wish that I would have focused more on what I was able to offer and not compare myself so much to the other dancers. That’s a destroyer of self-worth because everyone is so individual and has their own gifts that they can bring.
What non-dance activities are you looking forward to?
Yoga. I want to wake up and not have to force my body if it doesn’t feel like doing pliés and tendus that day.
Catch Kitchens and the rest of the company in PNB’s Season Encore Performance on June 12