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Jessica WallisWe’re thrilled to welcome another mover and shaker to the Dd team. Jessica Wallis, the Founding Director of Ballet in Cleveland, will be joining us, just in time for the holidays, to share her journey in building her own nonprofit as well as her mission to bring classical dance back to the Cleveland area. A lover of dance and a dancer herself, Wallis is passionate about moving the art form forward.
1. ART: Performance or visual? What place does art have in your life?

JW: Dance is art, and art makes our world beautiful. Art is what we surround ourselves with to make life rich and worth living. From the classical ballet theme of my office to the handmade works of art by my father, art is what makes an office a gallery and a house a home.

2. CRAFT: Knit or Crochet or Other? What is your craftiest project to date?

JW: I am an artistic person, and love digging my hands into ‘making stuff’ (that’s a technical term). I’d say my craftiest project to-date are the detailed scrapbooks I have made for both myself and others.

3. DESIGN: Classical or modern? What designer or architect inspires you the most?

JW: Classical. I love ‘old’ things. I love the old storybook ballets with the ‘classical formula’ — pas de deux, male solo, female solo, and coda. I find comfort and honor in tradition and cherish elements of life that take us back. PBS shows like Upstairs Downstairs and Downtown Abbey, as well as novels like The Great Gatsby, fill me with the romance of days when life seemed a bit more elegant and refined.

4. FOOD: Salty or sweet? Do you know how to make your favorite dish?

JW: Unfortunately, both salty and sweet. Salty? Chips and french fries (especially the fries at Cleveland’s Greenhouse Tavern. They’re accented with rosemary. It’s heaven on Earth!). Sweet? Iced sugar cookies and Starbucks lattes. And I’ve many talents, but cooking most certainly isn’t one of them! Dinner typically consists of cereal if I’m not dining out in Cleveland’s culinary rich theater district.

5. THOUGHT: Fiction or Nonfiction? What form does the bulk of your own reading and/or writing take?

JW: Once more, I must say both. Sometimes there’s absolutely nothing better than sitting down on my back porch swing and escaping into someone else’s story in a work of fiction. But I enjoy learning via nonfiction, too. The fiction works of Anita Shreve have kept me in bed with a cup of coffee many days. Zippora Karz‘s The Sugarless Plum — about being a dancer in NYCB battling with diabetes — and Toni Bentley’s biography, Winter Season, — about the trials of being a professional dancer in NYCB — were two nonfiction books through which I had the privilege of learning.

6. FUN: Where in the world do you want to go or be stranded? What five things would be in your bag?

JW: The balletomane in me is coming out once more with this response. If I could be stranded anywhere, I would choose inside the Palais Garnier (the Paris Opera house) in the 1920’s. It would be much like the Phantom of the Opera (“present but unseen”), watching the rehearsals of the Paris Opera Ballet. I would have a silk dance bag in which would be a journal, fountain pen, madeline cookies, and a photograph and a love letter from my beloved.

Written by Stephanie Wolf

Stephanie Wolf

An Atlanta native, Stephanie Wolf has performed professionally with the Minnesota Ballet, James Sewell Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, and Wonderbound (formerly Ballet Nouveau Colorado). She has a BA in Liberal Studies from St. Mary’s College of California. Her writing has been published in national and regional media outlets, including Dance Informa, Indianapolis Star, and the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Currently, Stephanie lives in Denver, where she is a public radio producer and reporter. She loves bluegrass, cooking, Netflix, and owls.