Erikka Reenstierna-Cates started dancing at the age of four at a small ballet school in her hometown of Modesto, Ca. As Erikka became more serious about her work, she had the opportunity to dance at Central West Ballet (CWB) and started dancing in smaller scale productions for CWB until she was hired as a trainee at the age of 14 and continued to dance professionally for the company until the age of 21. After leaving CWB, Erikka joined the Oklahoma City Ballet for a year.
The following year Erikka wanted to expand her technique in a new environment which prompted her to apply to be a Resident Assistant for Princeton Ballet School’s Summer Intensive. Being accepted as an RA and dancing at Princeton Ballet School for six weeks was unexpectedly the best decision she’s ever made.“I ended up sort of falling in love with it here,” she said. “Taking classes under Douglas and Mary, I felt my technique and joy for dance grow.”
At the end of the six weeks, Erikka was asked to join the Trainee Program by artistic director Douglas Martin starting in January 2017. She returned to her hometown at the end of the summer and received a surprising phone call from Douglas Martin informing her that one of the dancers had unexpectedly decided not to return next season and offered her a company contract. Two weeks later, she flew to New Jersey to start her new journey.
American Repertory Ballet is committed to presenting ballets from the 19th and 20th centuries, alongside new and existing works by choreographers from today. The company values individual attention and provides dancers with an opportunity to work closely with Artistic Director Douglas Martin.
“Erikka has added a wonderful dimension to the roster of ARB dancers,” said Artistic Director Douglas Martin. “She possesses a striking physical presence and commands attention with her long extended lines and dazzling form. She is intelligent, witty, expressive and entrancing.”
As a professional dancer for ARB, Erikka has performed in several productions including Pride and Prejudice, an original ballet created by Artistic Director Douglas Martin. “Being a part of Pride and Prejudice was a wild, wonderful ride,” said Erikka.
“It was so quasi-surreal to be a part of a world premiere. Once you take a step back and look at it from an outside perspective, it begins to dawn on you that we’re really doing something special here.”
One of the many benefits of working with a small company is the individual attention that is given to each dancer. “I love the individuality and strengths of the different men and women here. It’s such an intimate size, you have to easily transition between corpse de ballet and soloist. It gives you an even greater respect and understanding for not only ballet itself, but your fellow dancers,” said Erikka. “And honestly, the staff here are so genuinely kind and caring. It’s a noticeably lovely environment.”
This dancer story was written by ARB Summer intern Kristen Buggy.