20 Questions with Teagan Richman-Taylor
Updated April 19, 2021
1. What are the top three activities you have been doing during social distancing?
- I’ve started working towards a degree online with Queen’s University.
- I'm learning Mandarin.
- Taking my dog, Poppy, for a lot of long walks in the woods.
2. What would you have done as a career if ballet hadn't come your way?
I loved chemistry in high school so I imagine I would have continued my studies in that. I’m not sure where I would have ended up career wise, at this point it’s hard to imagine myself doing anything other than dance.
3. Have you ever had an embarrassing moment performance-wise?
Yes! The most memorable (read: traumatic) one happened before I joined the National Ballet. I was dancing in The Taming of the Shrew
with the Stuttgart Ballet
. In the finale, there is a section where the corps de ballet splits into small groups that weave back and forth through one another. Somehow I didn’t travel enough to make my opening and had to literally gallop around the side of the stage by myself until my group came back to collect me. I didn’t find it funny at the time, but it definitely makes me laugh now.
4. What is your work philosophy?
It is crucial that I always have clear idea of what I am working to improve. When I first joined a company, I would “work hard” without any specificity, eventually this just turned into me being very tense all the time. Learning how to relax and focus on small daily goals has helped me progress far more efficiently.
5. How do you handle criticism?
It’s equivalent to someone telling you there’s something in your teeth. It’s not always what you want to hear, but it’s better that you know. Constructive feedback is always appreciated. It’s a necessary part of this career and it’s always helpful to compare what you think you need to work on with other people’s opinions. At the end of the day, if I don’t feel a suggestion serves me, I can just move on.
6. Do you have any habits or superstitions before you perform?
I always like to go through the choreography right before I go onstage. It reminds me that I know what I’m doing and calms my nerves. Apart from that, I actually make a conscious effort not to get caught up in “pre-show superstitions.” You just have to accept every show is going to be different, and that is what makes live theatre so special!
7. What's your definition of a successful ballet dancer?
A dancer’s personal success stems from their enjoyment of the job, if you find it fulfilling and challenging then you are successful. From the audience’s perspective, a dancer has done their job if they were able to capture the audience’s attention and transport them away from their daily life.
8. What’s the best thing about being a dancer and what’s the worst?
The best part is the feeling of dancing onstage in peak condition; it’s what makes all the hard work worthwhile. The worst part is dealing with physical pain; it can be hard to find the joy of dance when your body is hurting.
9. What's your guilty pleasure song that'll make you rock out no matter where you are?
• “Stop” by the Spice Girls
or anything ABBA, but I don’t feel guilty about either.
10. What are three random things most people don't know about you?
- I love cooking.
- I can play the piano.
- I lived in Australia for a year (when I was seven).
11. What was the last thing you changed your mind about?
Online shopping. I was staunchly against it until the pandemic happened.
12. What cheers you up on an off day?
Cooking a nice meal and watching something light-hearted on Netflix.
13. Do you have any bad habits that you're working on breaking?
Mindlessly snacking on almond butter, it’s become quite expensive.
14. What is your favorite memory of being onstage?
by George Balanchine
in my last year of school. Until then, I had never particularly enjoyed performing, I often had a lot of anxiety before shows. Those performances were such an amazing experience that they completely changed my perspective. It was the first time I felt that indescribable feeling you can only get onstage. The same feeling that’s kept me going since.
15. Favorite ballet?
’s Romeo and Juliet
. I’ve danced and watched it countless times and it never gets old. The way the story, the music and the choreography all fit together is so effortless. It’s the perfect ballet.
16. What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?
Oddly, leaving Canada’s National Ballet School
(NBS) and moving back home to Vancouver when I was 13. I still wanted to dance professionally and I wasn’t sure if the training I could get at home would be adequate. After a few years with my family I ended up returning to NBS when I was 17. My dad passed away later that year. I’m so thankful I had that time with him.
17. When are you most proud of yourself?
Proud isn’t really the right word, but I am happy when I feel I’ve made progress. It feels amazing to have a breakthrough and suddenly be able to do something you couldn’t before.
18. Tell us about an awe-inspiring thing you've seen or experienced.
I took a trip to Israel a couple years ago; the scope of history there was inspiring.
19. Do you have a favourite quote?
No, not much of a quote person.
20. Finally, what is the top item on your bucket list?
After being stuck at home for so long all I want is to travel as far away as possible. Bhutan and Nepal are at the top of my list right now.