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PNB's Generosa finds joy in the moment

Tonight (Feb. 6), Angelica Generosa will dance Piccilia, a featured role in "Don Quixote." This member of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s corps joined the company in 2011. Her joyful interpretation and megawatt smile has lit up such pieces as Susan Stroman’s "TAKE FIVE…More or Less," and she has shown her classical chops in Peter Boal’s "Giselle" (peasant pas de deux), Ronald Hynd’s "The Sleeping Beauty" (gold and silver pas de trois), and Kent Stowell’s "Swan Lake" (Neopolitan dance shown in video above). Generosa recently originated roles in Twyla Tharp’s "Waiting at the Station" and former PNB dancer Andrew Bartee’s "arms that work" at PNB. Last year, artistic director Boal cast her in Molissa Fenley’s "State of Darkness," a work that required her to dance a 34-minute solo.

“I was very excited and so nervous,” she recalled. “So very nervous. It was really life changing.” But Dance Magazine marked her as a PNB dancer to watch even before that well-received performance, noting "her assured stage presence, and the way her upper body retains its ease no matter what her feet do."

Like many in her profession, Generosa started dancing at a very young age. “My mom put me in a class when I was two or three because I was so active around the house,” she said. Her ability to project the sparkle to the audience was honed as Clara in New York's "The Radio City Christmas Spectacular" at age 12. This New Jersey native was commuting to the School of American Ballet by her early teens. Her honors during her school years included Youth American Grand Prix Regional Hope Award in 2005 and being YGAP New York finalist in 2007. She also received the School of American Ballet Mae Wien Award for Outstanding Promise.

In 2011, Generosa was invited to apprentice at PNB and then was promoted to the corps the following year. “I’d never been to Seattle, but I met Peter when I was 15. He’s such a great director,” Generosa said. She also was intrigued by the company’s very mixed repertoire. “What we do is so versatile. I wanted to dance Balanchine and classical, but I also wanted more.”

Upon arrival, she had the usual reaction to Seattle. “I kept thinking what is this nonstop mist in my face? And where’s winter? What happened to the snow?” Generosa said. But she discovered the advantages too: “I used to bus two hours from New Jersey to school. Now I walk to work in minutes.”

A short commute means a lot whether she’s rehearsing or performing. Two weeks ago, her “Don Quixote” rehearsal days began with class in the morning, a three-hour run-through of the entire ballet, a break, and then another rehearsal in the early evening. Along with rehearsing the multiple parts for this production, she studied the lead role of Kitri, although she probably won’t dance it in this run.

“Sometimes people don’t understand the amount of time and work we have to put into this. How tired we are [in a day filled with class and rehearsal] but how we have to keep perfecting it,” she said. “After I get home, I may ice – a ten minute ice bath for my feet and ankles. I eat vegetables and protein. My mom would be proud [of the healthy diet].”

But, like all the company members, she finds all the work well worth it whenever she steps into the brilliant world of “Don Quixote” this month. “You walk into that beautiful set. It’s such a special feeling and you want to the audience to be part of it,” Generosa said. “Right now, my goals are to perfect the little things and enjoy every moment. When I was 15 or 16, I had those moments when I thought do I want this? But then I realized that I really love what I’m doing.”

To judge by their reaction when she dances, the audience loves those joyful moments too.