SPONSORED by Orlando Ballet: “14 Questions” is a new interview series looking at the local rock stars that make our city beautiful, as seen through the lens of a lineup of various local photographers.
This week we had the opportunity to sit with our new friend, Anita Boer, who agreed to be photographed in her neighborhood of the North Quarter; that slice of high-rise living located on North Orange Avenue, just on the other side of Colonial Drive from Downtown Orlando proper.
This week’s highlighted photographer is Melissa Procko (Instagram).
1) Who are you? What do you do to pay the bills?
My name is Anita Boer Wesley (recently married into my last name, but I have kept my stage name as Anita Boer) and I have been a professional dancer with Orlando Ballet for 12 seasons. I am also on staff as a classical ballet division teacher and coach with Mount Dora School of Ballet. In addition to that, I have performed and taught nationally as a guest artist/teacher.
2) What two animals would you combine to make something totally new?
Very interesting question … a rabbit and a wolf.
3) What’s your ‘hood of choice? Ie. what neighborhood do you call home?
I live just north of downtown Orlando, recently labeled as the North Quarter District. Deep down my ‘hood will always be where I grew up in Baltimore, MD.
4) Where is your favorite place to eat in Orlando?
I have to confess that my favorite place to eat is at home because my husband loves to cook and will accommodate all my personal requests! On the occasion that I get to go out and eat, I love being able to walk across the street to two of my favorite restaurants, Reyes (an upscale Mexican restaurant) and City Pub (newly added to this area with a casual atmosphere with great quick bites at decent prices).
5) Who do you look up to?
Since I was young, I have had several famous ballerinas that I looked up to, my favorite being Natalia Makarova. She moved with such agility, technique,
6) What inspires you?
What doesn’t inspire me? Everything I encounter in my life is an inspiration. Depending on what it is, I find different artistic outlets to let the inspiration fly. I use the inspiration to influence performing, choreography, creative projects, etc.
7) What does a typical week look like for you?
In a typical week, I teach at Mount Dora School of Ballet on Mondays and rehearse at Orlando Ballet Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. I am excited to say I usually have Sundays off! My favorite and most exhausting weeks that I work are performance weeks. Even though our hours usually run well over a 40 hour work week, it is necessary and worth it because we have a multitude of other factors that have to come together to make the production complete, including costumes, lighting,
8) What does self-care look like to you? How do you look after yourself?
Self-care is very important, especially in this line of work. I put a lot of thought into what I put in my body because I can feel the effects of it, especially when I have to perform. Also, after a long day of rehearsals, I like to take Epsom salt baths to relax and soothe my tired muscles. If my feet are particularly swollen that night, I will do contrast baths, where I switch back and forth between a bucket of steaming hot water with cayenne pepper and a bucket of ice water for about an hour. As a ballet dancer, you are very attuned with your body and you find little tips and tricks along the way to keep you going strong.
9) You trained in Baltimore and Boston and performed with troupes in New York, what do you think is special about Orlando? What keeps you here?
I grew up in the Northeast and I never imagined that I would move to Orlando, let alone stay in Orlando as long as I have. After my first year in Orlando, it was a hard decision to make whether I would stay or move back, but the company dancers and artistic vision made it impossible for me to leave. Plus, I have the added bonus of not having to shovel snow in the winter!
10) We featured the Ballet’s Artistic Director, Robert Hill, in an interview last year and he seemed to have a single-minded focus on career and dance, is that something you share? What do you do when you’re not rehearsing or performing?
Robert Hill’s overwhelming dedication to dance and the arts community is something I of course share. As a dancer, there is a lot of physical and emotional energy that is required when you want to perform at your highest potential.
For me, when I am not rehearsing and performing I try to break away from my “ballet life.” This can be difficult because ballet consumes so much of who I am and what I love to do. When I am not dancing, I am very thankful when I get to spend time with family and friends. I also enjoy other forms of physical activity, such as Pilates and yoga as well as getting to be creative with crafts and cooking.
11) It was recently announced that Arcadian Broad’s contract would not be renewed for the next season, how is the company reacting to that news?
When I first came to Orlando 12 years ago I met Arc as a young boy, who was full of energy and talent. These past seven years have been a pleasure getting to work alongside him and watch him grow as a dancer and artist. He has been an integral part of Orlando Ballet and I know that he will be successful in his next venture. We will miss him and wish him all the best.
12) His production of Wonderland: Mad Tales of the Hatter will open April 26, what can you tell us about it? Are you performing in it?
Arcadian is very creative and it has been inspiring to see different elements of the production come together. I am excited to announce that I will be performing Red Queen in Wonderland. The development of this character has been demanding, but exhilarating. As most people know, the Red Queen is an intense character, but Arcadian has added a few quirky steps and moments which reveals the humanity that lies behind such a strong facade. It has been fun getting to play around with different ways to deliver the movement and present the character. I can’t wait to get out on stage in full costume and makeup!
13) The 19/20 Season lineup was announced and I see Cinderella is back. Didn’t you dance that role before?
In our 2016/2017 season, we performed A Cinderella Story by Val Caniparoli. It was an entertaining jazzed up version of the tale where the prince lost his jazz shoe and the Cinderella character found it. I performed the step mother, which was a lot of fun for me because the character had several different dimensions that I was able to experiment with.
The Cinderella that we will be performing this upcoming season is the classic version of the story. The production is being rented from Cincinnati Ballet, which comes with beautiful sets and costumes.
14) What can you tell us about the Mowgli – The Jungle Book performance in May 2020?
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from this production since I have never seen it before. We recently had a photo shoot to promote Mowgli for next season and the costumes that were sent were incredible! I had the opportunity to dress up as the peacock. It came in a huge box with multiple pieces, making it very difficult to put on, but was stunning once our costumer figured it out! I started off by putting on a simple blue leotard with all sorts of hooks and harnesses attached. From there we added layer upon layer of these beautifully constructed pieces with feathers and diamonds galore. There is even an enormous head garment that reached over a foot high from my head! From this photo shoot and from what I have heard and seen in trailers it is an elaborate production that will be stunning!
Orlando Ballet’s highly-anticipated new production, Arcadian Broad’s Wonderland: Mad Tales of the Hatter!, features a Mad Hatter who is banished from Wonderland to 1920’s London, trying to make his way back in time to save Alice from the Red Queen’s curse, featuring an original score by Broad himself as performed live by Central Florida Community Arts.
The show will run from Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28. Click HERE to buy your tickets now.