Methow native Sadie Halpin performs with Portland Ballet
Sadie Halpin loves everything about ballet. “There’s always something new to work on. And, once you get something, it’s amazing to be able to do it in your own body,” she said.
Halpin, age 16, has danced since she was 3. Even before that, she watched her sister dance and was thrilled on trips to see “The Nutcracker.”
Today, Halpin is in the career-track program at The Portland Ballet and deep in rehearsals for two ballets that will be performed Thanksgiving weekend.
Mastering a new step can mean learning an intricate series of small movements or building physical strength, she said. After learning the step, Halpin embellishes the movement with her own artistic interpretation.
Once on stage, Halpin said she’s so completely immersed in the experience that it can be hard to remember what she did. Instead, what stays with her is the surge of energy from the other dancers and the audience.
Halpin grew up in the Methow Valley and studied dance locally with Lorrie Fraley Wilson. She also participated in intensive summer programs in Walla Walla and Salt Lake City. Halpin’s passion is traditional ballet — en pointe, or on the tip of the toes — but she has also studied jazz, contemporary dance and hip-hop.
Last year, she auditioned for The Portland Ballet’s Career Track program. The program, for students ages 14 to 22, simulates the experience of dancing with a professional company. Halpin started in Portland in January.
In addition to dancing seven to nine hours a day, six days a week, in classes and rehearsals, Halpin takes online classes for her more traditional studies as a high school junior. Her family and younger siblings are still in the Methow, so she’s living with family friends in Portland, where she’s responsible for her own meals and transportation.
Halpin danced in two performances in the spring — a traditional ballet by the renowned choreographer George Balanchine, plus a more contemporary one, Laura Grimes, Portland Ballet’s marketing and public relations manager, said.
Halpin will be dancing the role of a waitress in the world premiere of new choreography for Stravinsky’s “Petrushka,” a story of unrequited love. She’ll be a princess in Stravinsky’s “The Firebird,” a classic ballet based on a Russian fairy tale.
In both roles, Halpin will be part of a group of dancers in a corps de ballet. These are visible, prominent roles for advanced dancers, Grimes said. “They’re like elite athletes,” she said.
The performances are Friday through Sunday (Nov. 29 to Dec. 1) at 1 and 5 p.m. at Portland State University. Tickets are $10 to $38 at theportlandballet.org or (503) 452-8448.