A NYCB Ballerina in our Midst
THE COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON has many stars within its faculty ranks, and this year in the Department of Theatre (where there is a brand new Dance Major offered), a former New York City Ballet dancer, Deanna McBrearty, is teaching the skill and artistry of classical ballet.
Beginning ballet as a young girl in her home town of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, she soon understood that it would be her life’s passion. At 13, she moved away from home to study at a ballet school in another town joined by her mother and siblings. Also at this time, it was discovered she had Scoliosis (curvature in the spine) and was told that ballet was an unlikely dream for her. McBrearty did not let this stop her and continued on without the recommended surgery and many prayers. Miraculously the condition changed its course and soon she was accepted in the School of America Ballet in New York city, first in it summer programs and then at 16 as a full time student on her own at the center of ballet where the great George Balanchine had created the school training dancers for his world class company, NYCB.
At the time of her audition to the school, McBrearty’s family did not have the money to carry out the young dancer’s plans, but another miracle appeared when an older gentleman whose wife had recently died and had been a dancer, chose the young dancer to be the recipient of a full scholarship.
“I felt like I was being shot right out of a cannon,” says the beautiful and petite dancer who now lives on Daniel Island with her husband and two small children. Living and breathing dance night and day, the other students became her family and being in the big city was a big and accelerated education for a young girl. “I feel like that period was a whole life time in itself. To experience great choreographers like Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins, and composers like Stravinsky—you receive a special opportunity!”
Moving quickly up the ranks, she become an apprentice and was expedited to a corps dancer when someone was injured and she was at the right place at the right time. From that point on she danced in the company for the next 12 years. “Life was never monotonous dancing a new ballet every night, the ups and downs of casting, grueling hours, traveling all over the world.”
On her day off she worked with fashion icon Geoffery Beene as a model and became his muse as he wanted to incorporate movement into his clothes and photography. “Working with him enhanced my artistry and was like bringing more to one art form by adding another to it.”
Now, as a mother and teacher, McBrearty is glad that her career as a professional ballet dancer is complete and she can focus on the next chapter of her life. She says of teaching at CofC, “it’s been great working with the college students where the passion is there even if it won’t be a career. The benefits for them are the influence of art and the great work ethic. I want to give back because I was so blessed in my career.”