20 Questions with Shené Lazarus
July 2, 2020

Joe Chapman. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
1. What are the top three activities you have been doing during social distancing?

Since social distancing and self-isolation started, I found a love for sketching (sadly I don’t think I’m the next Picasso but I do enjoy it). I love baking, it’s one of my all-time favourite activities. I even created a separate account for my baking and cooking on Instagram, @nourish_and_flourish. I have been reading more during self-isolation which I’m loving because I have so much time to read leisurely.

2. What would you have done as a career if ballet hadn't come your way?

I think I would have loved to be dentist or an orthodontist. I always enjoyed going when I was younger as my teeth were one of my biggest insecurities growing up – I had braces for two and a half years. So, I thought I’d like to help other people and give them a confident smile. 
 
3. Have you ever had an embarrassing moment performance-wise?

No, I haven’t but I’m sure I will have a few as my career progresses.

4. What is your work philosophy?

Over the years, I’ve come to find out that in order for me to thrive in ballet, I have to focus on myself and not compare myself to others.
 
5. How do you handle criticism?

I think criticism is awesome! Especially if it’s coming from a good place. I see it as growth and that is something I’m always striving for.
 
6. Do you have any habits or superstitions before you perform?

Yes, before I step onstage to perform, I like to mediate and listen to music to get me hyped and of course, go over choreography! As for superstitions, I don’t have any.

7. What's your definition of a successful ballet dancer?

A successful dancer is one that is able to touch and give back to the audience with their presence and ability to tell a story. Also, one who is aware of their flaws and fear and is able to work on and overcome them.
 
8. What’s the worst thing about being a dancer and what’s the best?

I think the worst thing about being a ballet dancer is having to try and fit a mold of what you are supposed to look and dance like.
 
The best thing is performing. Taking that first step onstage, feeling the lights on your face and hearing the orchestra playing gives me tingles each time. I am counting down the days until we get to perform again!


9. What's your guilty pleasure song that'll make you rock out no matter where you are?

It’s an old song called, Maria Maria by Santana. It has been one of my favourite songs since I was two years old.

10. What are three random things most people don't know about you?
  • I went to a drama and acting school for just over a year before starting ballet full-time at the age of 12. I’m quite the drama queen.
  • I’m a foodie. I love food. I love going to restaurants and trying new dishes and then going home and trying to recreate them.
  • So far, each country I have lived in I have family. I’ve lived in South Africa, Australia, San Francisco and now, Toronto.
11. What was the last thing you changed your mind about?

If I should place another order for skincare products. 
 
12. What cheers you up on an off day?

Baking and Facetiming loved ones. 


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

Yes, I am trying to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. I’m a major night owl so it’s a work in progress. 

14. What is your favorite memory of being onstage?

This may sound cheesy but every time I step onstage is a favourite because each time is so different. If I had to choose one, it would have to be when my parents flew to San Francisco to watch me dance in The Nutcracker with San Francisco Ballet after not seeing me dance for many years.

15. Favorite ballet?

Diamonds by George Balanchine! This is a very special ballet to me. The music is phenomenal and the costumes are so beautiful and elegant.
 
16. What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?

Moving away from my parents at the age of 12 to study ballet full-time and then moving to San Francisco by myself in the hopes of becoming a professional dancer.

Joe Chapman. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
17. When are you most proud of yourself?

At the start of each week I set intentions and small goals I want to accomplish in order to achieve my end goal: to be happy with what I’ve accomplished as a dancer, to grow and continue learning from the people around me and hopefully perform more featured roles one day. When I check them off my list, I’m proud because it means I’m one step closer.

18. Tell us about an awe-inspiring thing you've seen or experienced.

I have been in awe of and inspired by how the ballet community is rallying together to support one another near and far during this time. And, of course, by all the essential workers and medical teams who are risking their lives to keep us safe and healthy.


19. Do you have a favourite quote?

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” - Oscar Wilde
 
20. Finally, what is the top item on your bucket list?

To travel to every country and experience each place like a local. That’s the best way to learn and experience each culture.

Learn More About Shené >

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