Katherine Higgins is a rising star. At just 18 years old, Katherine Higgins has been offered a contract with the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet. In pursuit of this dream, she has danced across continents and received several prestigious international awards. We talked to Katherine about belonging to one of the world’s most important dance companies, her passion for dance and her future projects.
Can you tell us a bit more about your background and current experience as part of the Paris Opera Ballet
Yes I can! I am originally from Wilton, Connecticut where I grew up with my parents and two sisters and first began dancing. At 15, I left home to attend the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp in Belgium, and I graduated from the school two years later. I studied for one more year in New York at Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program, and at the end of the year I auditioned for the Paris Opera Ballet. I was shocked when the company offered me a 4 month contract, and I happily accepted this once in a lifetime opportunity. My contract was extended to the end of the year, and I had a whirlwind experience adapting to Paris, its culture and the specific style of dancing in the company. I fell in love with the work here and I really admire our director, Benjamin Millepied‘s vision for Paris Opera. This past July, I passed the audition to enter the company again and was so excited to gain a full time contract. I am learning so much in this gorgeous opera house brimming with history, and feel very lucky I have the chance to be here!
What is the most unusual character or choreography you’ve danced’
This is a good question! This past June, I got to dance in José Martinez‘s ‘Les Enfants du Paradis‘. I danced a small role where I had to portray a drunk boy running about the streets of Paris! This definitely forced me to think outside the box and use my imagination. It was a lot of fun!
What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the dance world’
To those trying to break into the dance world, I would just say that this art form is an incredible gift to be a part of. Pursuing dance can be demanding and anything but glamorous at times, but I feel very blessed that I get to share a piece of who I am with the world when I dance. If we can hold on to that pure love and joy that comes with dancing, then we are creating a beautiful dance world! My advice would be to always remember why you began dancing, and to actively go out searching for new inspiration daily.
A few days ago, I participated in the annual internal competition at Paris Opera, and was promoted to the next rank in the company, coryphée. So I am looking forward to seeing where that takes me! One of the things I love most about dance is that it is an endless journey. I have a lot of big dreams, and I know I have to continue working hard and keep learning. I hope to be a part of making ballet and art more prominent and universal in today’s world, even if I contribute in the smallest way.
What is your favorite ballet/choreography and why?
This is a tough one. I fall in love with every ballet I get to dance, but I do have a soft spot for Swan Lake. Tchaikovsky was a genius, and I think it’s incredible that music written so long ago can still be so meaningful, relevant, and moving today. Recently, I got the chance to dance in a ballet by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, which was very inspiring and a meaningful experience for me.
If you weren’t dancing what would you be doing?
Anything involving music!
Beach or Mountain? Beach!
Natalia Osipova or Misty Copeland’ Hmmm….Makarova!
Paris or New York? I think I have to say New York because I’m living in Paris now. I love both cities, but New York will always have a really special place in my heart.
Vanilla or Chocolate? Definitely chocolate
Love or friendship? Both!
Ernest Hemingway or James Joyce? Hemingway
Introduction by Diana Vernon