Former Sacramento Ballet dancer Tricia Sundbeck recalls dancing the lead in Giselle
I had the great honor of dancing for Ron and Carinne from 1988-2000. I danced many roles during my time with Sacramento Ballet. Each role brought varying levels of emotion, from joy to frustration. Like most professional dancers, I experienced frustration because I desired perfection.
This brings me to the Giselle: the perfect classical ballet, complete with a perfect story of love and redemption. In fact, after the 1841 premiere of Giselle at the Paris Opera, it was reviewed as the greatest ballet of its time.
Dancing the lead role in Giselle will always remain deep in my heart as a gift to my soul.
Dancing the title role in Sacramento Ballet’s Giselle was both terrifying and exhilarating. I was 34 and this production of Giselle ended up being one of the last performances of my career. As a professional ballet dancer with years of experience, I developed stronger technique and more confidence. I used this to find strength in this challenging role. Still, I thought of acting as my core strength. Giselle’s choreography forced me to face what I thought of as my biggest weaknesses as a dancer: jumping and hopping on pointe.
I was determined to push myself beyond the weakness. To do so, I reminded myself of the importance of the story of Giselle, a story of true beauty and eternal love. I also practiced a lot. At home, I would go over the “mad scene” in front of my bedroom mirror to make sure each moment captured the emotion of the role perfectly.
When the last curtain fell after dancing in Giselle, that feeling had not changed. Giselle was still the perfect combination of all things beautiful. Many shows during my career are now a blur, but dancing the lead role in Giselle will always remain deep in my heart as a gift to my soul.
As Sacramento Ballet prepares to perform Giselle, my message to dancers and viewers is to remember to give yourself over to the story and music. Enjoy all that ballet is. Stay present, and get lost in what can only be called perfection!
Written by: Tricia Sundbeck
Dancer Credit: Tricia Sundbeck
Photo Credit: J. Corcoran
Production Credit: Ballet Theatre of Toledo*
*Sacramento Ballet incorrectly credited Toledo Ballet originally.