Narrative and Interview by Hailey Suarez
Linda Gelinas is an instructor who has worked at Juilliard since 2016. The Juilliard School is a private performing arts conservatory in NewYork City. She has also worked in residence at The Metropolitan Opera, an American opera company based in NewYork City. At the Metropolitan Opera she was the interim dance director. Gelinas also teaches open classes at Steps, which was one of the first dance studios to embrace the diversity of the dance world, offering the opportunity to take classes in all different styles in one location on Broadway. Professional dancers fromAmerican Ballet Theatre, NewYork City Ballet, and many other major dance companies take classes at Steps.
Gelinas started dancing in New Hampshire when she was seven years old and was influenced by her brother who also dance; unlike her brother, Linda never stopped because she loved it so much. It was her entire life. In fact, she continued studying all through high school and had the inspiring determination to graduate early to pursue her dance career. After taking a scholarship opportunity at the Joffrey Ballet, she then moved to New York City alone at 16 and stayed at a boarding house for girls. “It was like college, but with a curfew and your classes were dance,” she said. Her accomplishments also include being on the faculty for the Hong Kong International Dance program and the Dance Lab in Verona, Italy. She has taught at many prestigious places such as New York University, Columbia University, and Indiana University. She has also taught at the Hong Kong International Dance School, the Miami City Ballet School, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Manhattan Youth Ballet, Broadway Dance Center, Ballet Arts, and Columbia Performing Arts Center. She was the resident choreographer and dance instructor for the Marcello Giordani Young Artist Program and the Opera Children’s Chorus at the Crested Butte Music Festival. She received her dance training at the Joffrey Ballet School and the Boston Ballet School, is a certified Pilates instructor, and a graduate of the New York Film Academy. She has performed with Alexander Godunov and Friends, the Pavlova Celebration Tour, the Nureyev-Joffrey Ballet tribute to Nijinsky, and Boston Repertory Company, among others.
Gelinas has danced in works by Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Sen Curran, Carmen de Lavallade, Agnes de Mille, Bob Fosse, Robert LaFosse, Mark Morris, Alexei Ratmansky, Jerome Robbins, Edward Villella, and Christopher Wheeldon. She performed the role of Louise in a New England tour of Carousel and has served as ballet mistress for the festival company at the Chautauqua Institution. She is now the Director of Ballet Arts at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
I interviewed her in October, 2022. I immediately noticed how light-hearted and humble she was. She has a dog named Bella that she was playing with and it gave me insight on what kind of person she is. She came across as joyful and a fun person to be around and talk to.
Have you ever hit a creative roadblock?
“I have to say, no because one thing just kept coming after one thing ended; another door always opened. I had injuries and that really put a damper on things, but I realized I could come back stronger. I didn’t care anymore because I always knew I could come back.”
What Linda said was very inspiring for me because it shows just how much of a positive soul she is even in the darkest time and for dancers, that’s when we can not dance and feel helpless on the sidelines.
Where do you choreograph?
Linda Gelinas expressed that she does not consider herself a choreographer but she does choreograph for classes and the school at Steps requires it for her classes she teaches. She also choreographs for summer intensives and has been told by people to enter her choreography for competitions.
Even though you don’t consider yourself a choreographer, what is your inspiration for choreography when you do it?
“I always like to find music to inspire me,” said Linda. She starts off at the beginning of a piece of choreography with movement, but she needs the music to really inspire the rest of the movements to make a piece. She also talked about how other choreographers like to create dances with no music at all and adapt it to music, but she uses that as a contrast to her to express how important music is to her and her talent.
What made you want to teach?
Linda was asked to substitute and was invited to the Chautauqua Institution to teach because they had a summer intensive for opera, theater, and dance. She then discovered how much she loved teaching while she was still a professional dancer, saying, “ I tried to use all my information that I got from my physical therapist and my anatomy classes because I am also a Pilates instructor and try to incorporate that into my classes to help prevent students from injuring themselves.”
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Gelinas works at both Juilliard and the Met, and she sees herself still working at both because she loves the two institutions. She made a joke when I first asked the question and she answered with “retired in Maui.”
I loved her sense of humor which shows she doesn’t take herself too seriously and I strive to be the type of person who has so much going on in their life and still find a way to be such a unique and caring person. She even offered me a tour of the Met next time I find myself in New York City, which made me even more starstruck. I was lucky enough to even fit into her busy schedule and she inspired me so much.
What does success mean to you?
” Success means doing what you love for a living and being happy with it.”
Takeaways: Linda Gelinas’s Impact
Linda Gelinas inspires people. She has inspired me with just a 15-minute conversation. I can’t imagine how much her students look up to her. She sees growth in people and cares for her students and for their futures by giving hem connections and making sure to teach them about their own bodies to prevent any obstacles as possible. On top of that, she gives advice on how to deal with obstacles if they ever do arrive, saying, “ You will come back stronger!” She is respected and works in prestigious places dancers dream of.
Steps on Broadway: