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I’m in my third week of ‘Western ballerina life’ with Ballet Montana – a professional summer ballet company directed by Sallyann Mulcahy – and I’m starting to understand why dancers come back to Helena year after year. Montana is a majestic state, with big, open skies and stunning views of mountainous landscapes, stretching into the vast horizon. It’s serene, allowing my multi-tasking mind to settle and focus on the moment. Normally, I’m an A-Type personality, planner extraordinaire. Yet, here, I find myself uninterested in making too many plans, taking deep breaths in an attempt to ingest as much smog-free air as possible, and feeling rather pensive.

My time in the dance studio leaves me aching, sore, tired, . . . and incredibly inspired! Equally as special, is my time outside of class and rehearsal, . . . when I get to know my fellow Ballet Montana partners in crime. Sallyann is a gem in the dance world and makes me want to work so hard that I find myself almost in tears after every rehearsal. But, the other dancers also push me, both as a dancer and person. As I’ve been getting to know each of them over the past few weeks a tiny light bulb went off in my head; suddenly, I felt the urge to share their stories, hobbies, interests, and unique personalities with the rest of the world . . . or at least, with the rest of MY world. My original intention was to share my summer journey, but now I want to share all 10 of our journeys, as we navigate this rough terrain of the ballet world together. I’ll be profiling each dancer throughout my remaining time in Helena – sharing their dance training, backgrounds, and the things in life, beyond the stage, that interest them.

Artists, dancers, comrades, DIY-ers, . . . I present to you the ‘Movers and Shakers’ of Ballet Montana

All photography by Ballet Montana dancer Robert Greer

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.