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Nov 24, 2020

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra interviews Kathleen Breen Combes, Executive Director of the Festival Ballet Providence. Prior to her current role, Kathleen was Principal Dancer at the Boston Ballet and was once hailed by the New York Times as a “ballerina of colossal scale and boldness.” During her run as a dancer, Kathleen garnered several awards and accolades, including being featured on the cover of Dance Magazine. Kathleen also currently spends her time guest lecturing for Ted-Ed seminars and for top-tier universities.

More than anything, Kathleen Breen Combes wants people to know the value that dance brings to the world — a value that is so much more than what is displayed on stage. To Breen Combes, the lessons learned in dance training translate so well to our world today, and she has dedicated her life to instilling these truths into others’ lives. On the podcast, Kathleen walks through her journey as a dancer, including lessons learned in her current run as Executive Director, and praises the art that has molded her life and the lives of millions around the world.


Moving Quotes:

“You can train to be a ballet dancer and not become a professional ballet dancer, yet still learn so much about life… Everything we learn in the studio translates to everything else in the world. A dance education is so much more than dance."

“Your imperfections are what make you more interesting… It’s those people with quirks that really move you."

“It’s really important for us to treat the women coming up in the dance field as collaborators. It’s not just us yelling at them as teachers and coaches, but we’re really on the same level, working together to create great art."

“Dancers today need to understand that there are so many different ways [to break into the dance industry]. No matter what way is yours, sometimes it will work out better for you in the long run."

“As young dancer, we try to emulate the stars… It’s really important to remember that there’s so much more to dance than that. It’s how you move people."

“Our dance form has always been a reflection of what’s going on in society. We want to honor our past but have to represent today’s culture."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:01: Kathleen describes her role as Executive Director of Festival Ballet Providence and how the company is being forced to redefine itself in 2020.

6:57: Kathleen walks through her journey as a female into dance leadership and includes some advice on how to prime young female dancers to take these types of positions in the future.

10:04: Breen Combes discusses her participation in a TED-Ed conference and why ballet is so much more valuable than what is shown on the stage.

11:57: Kathleen, who has been the recipient of multiple career awards, shares her point of view on how these types of awards have played a role in her life.

13:25: Breen Combes, who frequently gives guest lectures at top-tier universities, gives a high-level view on the subject matter of her talks.

15:03: Breen Combes shares some advice for young dancers that are trying to break into the dance industry — advice that worked out well for her, personally.

18:53: Kathleen describes how she ensures that all of her staff at Festival Ballet Providence are aligned and moving towards the same direction and goals.

21:17: Kathleen discusses a couple of important and necessary changes that are happening inside of the dance industry that will greatly impact the art.

23:13: Breen Combes gives a couple of pointers that young dancers should keep in mind while training for a professional dance career.

24:49: Kathleen paints a picture of her future, both personally and professionally.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Kathleen Breen Combes


Festival Ballet Providence