Jul 10, 2019
This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra chats with Meredith Harrill, professional dancer at Visceral Dance Chicago. Meredith received dance training at the Central Florida Ballet Academy, before studying on scholarship at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. Harrill was a trainee with Joffrey Ballet Chicago and BalletMet Columbus, where she also performed in several productions, and performed as a soloist for State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara, CA. Meredith has received numerous accolades, including awards from both the Youth America Grand Prix and World Ballet Competition.
Meredith’s journey is a unique one, having not started ballet until the age of 12. On the podcast, Meredith reflects on having to learn dance fundamentals at a late age but discusses the grit and determination that she had to find within herself to push through the frustrations and succeed. Harrill touches on a wide variety of topics, including the advantages and disadvantages of curating a social media following and the nature of accepting rejection and moving on with life.
“Don’t put yourself in a box… You grow up having these ideas or goals for yourself, but don’t be afraid to alter them along the way… It’s not just about getting a dream job; it’s about creating yourself as an artist as well. Maybe the place you thought you wanted to be isn’t right for you, and it’s somewhere else. You need to be open to that."
“The hardest thing [about being a dancer] is realizing that it is your life. There is no point where you clock out… You don’t ever get to forget about it. Everything you do is related back to dance."
“I think I’m most proud of my ability to push through. No matter what happens, I’m not giving up."
“Even if [dance] is not something you see yourself pursuing as a career, it’s not a reason to stop doing it. It teaches you not only discipline and group involvement, but it’s great for your body and good for your soul, too. To be able to have this outlet of movement to express yourself."
“I also knew that one of the best qualities a dancer could have is your performance. And I really enjoy performing. I love being able to immerse myself in a role… The joy of movement makes me come alive."
“I love social media. I try not to get too attached to it because I still want to be present in the outside world. I don’t want to get too concerned with comparing myself with other people… But for dancers and artists, it’s a great platform to show your work and show who you are and represent yourself in the way you want to be represented."
"[My first ballet coach] told me right away, ‘You’re going to have a really hard time finding a job, but once you find a job, you’re going to keep it.’ Just because I was so determined to make this work and also just being able to bring out something from inside that translated onto stage."
“[Social media] is almost like a virtual resume for yourself."
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
2:03: Meredith recounts her journey of dance, including the decision to transition from competitive gymnastics to ballet at the late age of 12.
7:38: Meredith reflects on her experiences in dance boarding school and how this life stage prepared her for professional dance.
9:23: Harrill walks through both her typical days and her performance days as a professional dancer.
12:13: Meredith discusses a time in her dance journey when she pushed through hardship because she was determined to make dance work.
14:03: Meredith remembers the difficulty of being at the bottom of her dance class and having to learn simple dance fundamentals at the age of 12.
16:22: Harrill speaks on her favorite type of ballet and why she enjoys being a versatile ballet dancer, knowing many different styles of dance.
18:35: Meredith discusses the person that influenced her dance life the most and how their relationship has continued from an early age until now.
20:04: Meredith chats about her vibrant social media presence and the pros and cons of curating a social media following.
22:31: Meredith gives some incredible advice around how to face rejection well — good advice for both dancers and non-dancers.
28:09: Harrill discusses what’s next for her career and reflects on the most difficult part of being a professional dancer.
Bullet List of Resources –
Visceral Dance Chicago