20 Questions with Shaelynn Estrada
July 29, 2021


Shaelynn Estrada. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I’m a bit of a political junkie, so in addition to being a couch potato, I really like phone banking for different causes and organizations in my spare time. Also I’m doing online college.

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?

Yes! I was a bit too tall to get out of a present box as a toy soldier in The Nutcracker at Houston Ballet and my hat/head got completely stuck. The entire prop was moving along with me! I ended up using my hands to yank my head forward and wrecked my entire costume in the process. This was during my professional career.

What is your work philosophy?

Always work harder than I did the day, week, month, year before. Kinda like that Matthew McConaughey Oscar speech.

How do you handle criticism?

I love being corrected and criticized because no matter what anyone says, it will help me grow and it can’t be worse than what I’m already thinking.


Shaelynn Estrada in a Socially Distanced Class. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

What is your definition of a successful ballet dancer?  

Heather Ogden.

What’s the best thing about being a dancer?

95% performing and feeling hot stage lights on your skin, 5% having random people think you’re cool even though you’re not.

What music are you listening to right now?

I am currently super into Riot Grrrl punkish music. The Breeders, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, The Regrets, Patti Smith, bands like that! Plus ALWAYS, Johnny Cash!


Shaelynn Estrada in rehearsal for The Dreamers Ever Leave You. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

What was the last thing you changed your mind about?

My favourite flavour of yoghurt.

What cheers you up on an off day?

FaceTiming my crazy family, especially my niece and nephews. Also birthday cake.

Do you have any bad habits that you're working on breaking?

Honestly, I’ve got more than we have time for.

What is your favourite onstage memory?

Probably performing a solo from Carmen at a gala. But actually once when I was at a Mexican restaurant in New York City, this opera open mic singer performed selections from Carmen and I just got up and did the whole variation in the Mexican restaurant in my Doc Martens and a belly full of rice and beans. It was the best.

What is your favourite ballet?

I have several: Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Carmen and The Cage.


Shaelynn Estrada in rehearsal for The Dreamers Ever Leave You. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

Could you name someone who has mentored or inspired you?

Edward Ellison pretty much mentored me and believed in me more than anyone (other than my mom!!). But I am CONSTANTLY inspired by Heather Ogden! I had a poster of her in my room growing up, so dancing in the same company as her and getting to watch her train and perform and be such a cool human is like the most insane blessing ever.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Being someone who anyone (even those who don’t know me, dislike me, or vice versa) can come to in a time of need or sadness or just loneliness. I hate that not everyone has someone like that.

Where would you like to travel, but haven’t yet?

Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland! Also anywhere on the west coast, especially California and B.C.

What are you reading right now?

I’m actually always reading a few books; right now they include: Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman and The Way Women Are: Transformative Opinions and Dissents of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Cathy Cambron.

What’s the top item on your bucket list?

To have Seth Rogen and President Obama read me a bedtime story.

Learn More About Shaelynn

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