Steffi Carter hails from San Diego and began ballet at seven. By seventeen, she enjoyed performing as a principal dancer with the Southern California Ballet. The years most defining to her development as an artist were spent between her adopted studio, Marin Dance Theatre, and her home studio, Black Mountain Dance Centre. At the latter she completed her Cecchetti studies with Honors and became a certified Cecchetti Ballet teacher. She put her training to good use when she represented the United States at the Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition in Calgary (2008).
Steffi then found one of her favorite places in the world, the University of Chicago. She attended to study political science and human rights — but also made time to serve as Head of Teaching for the University Ballet and choreographer for the University Theater (2012). She has subsequently worked with dancers from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Joffrey Ballet, even performing in the city as a featured dancer with Redmoon Theater and in new movement by Chicago Dance Crash.
Now fluent in critical thinking and contemporary dance, she returned to San Diego with her heart set on performing professionally. Steffi realized that there are few things she must do, and dancing is one of them. (Writing about dance is another, she discovered, when she wrote the short piece, “Date a Girl Who Dances”, which can be found at http://www.buzzfeed.com/steffirina/date-a-girl-who-dances-op3t
) Her passions lie with teaching and telling stories, latte art and laughter, and she finds a home wherever she is happy.
She loves San Diego, and is most thankful for Javier Velasco’s original choreography for her featured role in the U.S. premier of the Azerbaijani fairytale “The Seven Beauties” (as the Magreb Queen, 2014). This is her third season with the San Diego Ballet.
More about Steffi…
Who influenced you most to become the dancer you are today?
My mom! She’s my best friend and hero made up of musicality, profundity, recovery, and true joy. Also Toni Bentley (of the NYCB under Balanchine), who wrote “Winter Season, A Dancer’s Journal”. I read it when I was fifteen. She taught me that dancers can write, and showed me just how beautiful and useful the depths of internal conflict are to artistry.
What was the funniest episode(s) you’ve experienced in your career?
The Nutcracker is always a riotous time. Everyone is so comfortable with the music and choreography that there’s a holiday-party feel to the stage. We’re just having fun, and often, goofing off. Hissing banter or hiding laughter through red lipstick smiles. Once I was thrown into the role of the Maid (Southern California Ballet) because the originally cast member fell ill. I had never rehearsed it, and there were lots of props to maneuver. From years of her in my periphery in the party scene, I played the Maid without a hitch which, I would say, was the start of my character acting speciality. I played the Grandma in SDB’s Nutcracker last year on tour and it was, I must say, fun and funny.
Who would you most like to share the stage with (living or dead)? Why?
Fred Astaire. He was a skinny, balding, middle-aged white guy who broke into Hollywood with his charm and talent, and ability to tap in a top hat and tails. Talk about an unlikely ballerina. Would’ve loved to have shared the screen with him. Him, or Martha Graham. She’s dramatic, and intelligent. She found the inevitability in moments, in movement.
What goes through your mind just before you perform?
I do a systems check on my body, make sure everything feels good to go. Then I focus on having a good time, and how I’ll invite the audience to do the same. They can tell who loves and believes what they do onstage. So, just before performing, we promise to be genuine and committed onstage. You reroute energy accordingly.
What do you like/admire most about San Diego Ballet?
I love coming in everyday to work on my craft. Daily classes in a beautiful location with plenty of parking at the NTC? They had me at hello.