Ballet beyond the physicality


by Elizabeth Geffre

Her fingers are perfectly placed and her toes are pointed in a way that makes you wonder, if you just tried, could you do the same? She moves across the floor with a mesmerizing grace.

After over twenty years of professional experience, it is no wonder Sueann Townsend, Director at Amherst Ballet, makes the art look easy. She started training in Michigan when she went to high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Townsend says she knew she wanted to dance professionally from an early age, about thirteen or fourteen years old.

During her time in high school, she says there was no sort of distraction so you were able to completely work on your art form. She was then able to continue dancing professionally for over twenty years. She danced all over from New York City to Louisville, Kentucky to Las Vegas, where she ended her career.

While dancing professionally, Townsend educated herself beyond the aspect of performing; she learned teaching, choreography, and backstage work.

Once her career ended, she wanted to do something other than dancing, and after trying different things, she found her way back. She began teaching and staging ballets, and even performed for a few more years after she retired. Then, she made her way to Amherst where she eventually became the Executive Director at Amherst Ballet.

Townsend says everything pales in comparison to dancing for her. Dancing is the only thing she has found that stimulates her physically, intellectually, and emotionally at the same time.

“It’s the thing that I’ve found that is a complete aesthetic experience,” says Townsend.

Elizabeth Geffre can be reached at [email protected]

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