Q&A with Meghan Pugh
March 30, 2021
Meghan Pugh. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
What are the top three activities you have been doing during the pandemic?
I decided to try out a few new activities. Firstly, I have completed several online university courses to keep my brain active and stimulated. This is something I have always wanted to explore but never had the time to commit to. I am really enjoying this new challenge. Secondly, I have also jumped on the bread making trend. I am enjoying experimenting with a variety of different bread recipes and have been delivering some of my creations to my friends throughout the city. Thirdly, I’ve started making homemade kombucha. This is another one of those activities that I have always wanted to try but never had the time to devote to exploring. I am very happy with the results and I’m enjoying experimenting with different flavours.
What would you have done as a career if ballet hadn't come your way?
That’s a very difficult question to answer because I have always been so focused on having a career as a ballet dancer... but considering how successful my bread making has been, maybe I should open a little bakery! I don’t think this is something I will be considering anytime soon, however.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?
Yes, I have had many embarrassing moments during a performance. The one that stands out was during a run of Nijinksy. I had to complete a very fast quick change which involved removing my pointe shoes, tights and headpiece, and changing my costume in a matter of 30 seconds. During the dress rehearsal I practiced the quick change for the first time. Needless to say, I didn’t change quite fast enough before the entrance music began and I had to run onstage with only half of my costume on.
What is your work philosophy?
Every day in the studio I try to be completely focused and commit 100% to my work. Challenges are present in most professions and I believe that it’s important to stay focused on the things that are within your control and persevere to overcome those challenges.
Meghan Pugh (centre) with Artists of the Ballet in The Winter's Tale. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
How do you handle criticism?
I like to believe that criticism is given to ballet dancers with the best intentions in order to help them improve their performance. I take constructive criticism well knowing that it will help contribute to an even better final product.
What is your definition of a successful ballet dancer?
An artist who is eager to take risks and willing to be completely vulnerable in a given role.
What’s the worst thing about being a dancer?
The drive for perfection. It is very common for ballet dancers to be hard on themselves.
What’s the best?
The best thing about being a ballet dancer is being able to perform. There is nothing that compares to those moments on stage when everything comes together. All those hours of hard work and the physical demands on your body are rewarded with a connection with the audience during a live performance. Those moments allow you to lose yourself on stage as you immerse yourself in your role.
Meghan Pugh. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
What's your guilty pleasure song that'll always make you rock out?
“Electric Love” by Børns. That song makes me feel happy no matter what!
What are three random things most people don't know about you?
- An ideal day off for me would be spent fishing; I find it so relaxing.
- I am obsessed with using my label maker. I love labelling all my files and organizing the jars in my pantry. I am a very organized person.
- During a summer vacation in New Zealand (which was their winter) I went zorbing down a steep hill (Google it if you don’t know what it is). It was a lot of fun and I imagine that’s what hamsters feel like when they run in their wheel.
What was the last thing you changed your mind about?
With the change in weather, it’s difficult to choose between hot coffee or a coffee over ice. I’m choosing iced coffee more often!
What cheers you up on an off day?
When I am having an off day, I can always rely on my friends and my dog to cheer me up.
Do you have any bad habits that you're working on breaking?
I am trying to limit my daily intake of coffee. Just kidding! That’s never going to change. Coffee is one of my guilty pleasures. I enjoy sampling different varieties of coffee from the cafes in the city.
What is your favourite onstage memory?
Performing the role of Kitty in the ballet Anna Karenina. It has been the most challenging and rewarding experience in my career so far. I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to dance such a complex role.
Meghan Pugh and Skylar Campbell in Anna Karenina. Photo by Kiran West.
What is your favourite ballet and why?
My favourite classical ballet would be The Winter’s Tale – hands down. The whole production is a masterpiece: the dramatic plot, the gorgeous score, the beautiful costumes, the elaborate sets and the choreography all contribute to a magnificent creation. I also love this ballet because it offers an abundance of challenging choreography for every member of the company. My favourite contemporary ballet would be Cacti. I have never felt more connected and in sync with my colleagues then when I was performing Cacti.
What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?
I guess the biggest risk would be making the decision to move away from home at the age of 11 to start training at Canada’s National Ballet School to eventually become a professional ballet dancer. It was a decision that changed the course of my life forever.
When are you most proud of yourself?
I am most proud of myself when I am able to create a regime that preserves a healthy work and life balance.
Tell us about an awe-inspiring thing you've seen or experienced.
We are so fortunate to have access to so many incredible ballets online. I recently watched The Statement by Crystal Pite and it is hands down one of the most brilliant and inspiring works I have ever seen.
Do you have a favourite quote?
I find this quote very inspiring:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
What’s the number one item on your bucket list?
I am not sure that I can identify just one! However, I do look forward to a time when I can resume travelling the world. I have had the opportunity to visit many beautiful destinations and I want to continue to explore the world and learn more about various cultures and natural phenomena.
Learn More About Meghan >
Meghan Pugh is sponsored through Dancers First by Cornell Wright and Sarah McEvoy.