This Valentine’s month enjoy the love story of newlyweds Emma and Price Suddarth…
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.
It all started in September 2009 when Kansas native Emma Love was paired with Indiana native Price Suddarth for a group number in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet. Emma, who had recently been promoted from apprentice to the corps de ballet, was set on completing an assigned lift when something happened that she’ll likely never forget.
“During a performance, [Price] threw me up into a lift and my hand slipped and I somehow ended up slapping him across the face,” Emma recalled with a chuckle. “We still can’t figure out exactly how that happened. The lift had been seamless through all our rehearsals.”
At the time, Price was a student at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, not a company member yet. He recalls, “I didn’t say anything about the slap at first because she was a company member and I wasn’t.” But Emma felt horrible, so she made a point to apologize later backstage. Price says, “She grabbed me later and apologized, which of course launched into months of sarcastic comments from me.”
Now, what started with an accidental slap to the face has ended with clasped hands and wed hearts. After dating for two years, Price, who was by then a company member, asked Emma to marry him. They were married last summer on August 16 at The Kelley Farm in Bonney Lake, Washington.
When reflecting back on their relationship, both say they first really connected during Nutcracker season. Emma explains, “Performing in The Nutcracker together, we had plenty of downtime backstage. It’s a run of 40 plus shows and for most of it, dancers are waiting backstage… so we really got closer during that time.”
Price said he was first attracted to Emma because of her sense of humor. “I thought she was very funny. And as a dancer it was really nice to be able to hang out in the evenings and just play videogames on my Wii. We’d just joke around and have a good time,” he recalls. “It was very refreshing to be with someone who understood ballet but didn’t talk about ballet all the time.”
The corps de ballet duo was engaged in November 2012. Price prepared to pop the question by first designing her ring with a local jeweler. Then he researched local spots that would provide privacy since he knew Emma didn’t want a public proposal.
Emma remembers that he was very adamant about going out to lunch that day, which was odd since she had “always been the planner” in their relationship. After convincing her to go, he drove them to Lake Union, where they hopped on a seaplane to head up the coast. After a “wonderful little lunch,” they went on a walk on the beach and he proposed. “It was absolutely perfect. It was just us,” says Emma.
Planning their wedding while juggling their full-time rehearsal and performance schedules was tough but fun, Price says. “Actually, we got a lot of planning done early on, which was really great because everyone was saying the last month and a half is a crazy scramble.”
Then, in August 2013, the wedding day finally arrived for the lovebirds. Even though the day before was raining, their wedding day delivered the ideal sunshine and pleasant temperatures – perfect for an outdoor barn wedding. “It was a nice 70-72 degrees and the flowers were all blooming and it was incredible,” Price says. The newlyweds honeymooned a few months later in Hana, Maui.
Emma admits that she is still surprised that she married another dancer. She says, “Before I knew Price, I thought that there was no way I was going to date another dancer. It’s such a high stress and energy-demanding job that you’re always pouring yourself into it, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle dating someone coming from the same setting.”
But now Emma says it is “one of the greatest blessings.” She explains, “It’s been absolutely wonderful being there for one another in ways that only another dancer would get and understand. When there’s frustrations or excitement, we can understand it on a different level than a non-dancer probably would.”
Price agrees and further describes the unique nature of their relationship by saying, “The challenges of dancing professionally together are also the benefits in some ways. They are all interwoven.”
He explains: “When two people both have careers that are so physically involved and time consuming, it is sort of all encompassing. We have six hours of rehearsal a day and then company class, which is an hour and a half. So we have all day long that we’re working. Then on top of that, you have to do your homework when you go home – think about the ballets, go to the gym, and etc. It’s a very demanding profession, which makes it difficult to even have relationships because it obviously takes energy as well.
“But, on the flip side, you also have someone there that understands how important it is and what is required of you – physically, emotionally and mentally. They understand and have respect for what you’re going through. While both of our families are very supportive of us and our careers, there’s only so much they can understand. So having Emma and having this mutual understanding for one another is an incredible blessing. To be able to come home and not even have to talk about our day because we already know and understand is liberating.”
Quite thrillingly, the newlyweds have even gotten to dance together for a few programs, something that could easily be a rarity in a company as large as Pacific Northwest Ballet. Besides the short Romeo and Juliet partnering, the lovebirds partnered in Margaret Mullin’s Lost in Light in 2012 and more recently, in a pas de deux from Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort.
“This last October we got to do a pas de deux from Kylián’s Petite Mort. In addition to it being one of our favorite ballets, it was just so wonderful to rehearse and perform it together. During rehearsals, we would go into another studio and just work on stuff by ourselves. It was great because we can be so frank and honest with one another in a way that’s not rude but that is helping us connect and work more efficiently,” says Emma.
Price adds, “Petite Mort is individually our favorite ballet. It’s simple yet complex… truly incredible. I never thought I’d get to perform it so it was incredible to get to do one of my favorite parts in one of my favorite ballets with one of my favorite people.”
The two agree that it would be wonderful to dance together more often in the future, admitting that Romeo and Juliet would be a dream come true. Recently, Price choreographed a work for PNB’s emerging choreographers showcase Next Step that was abstractly about their relationship. He hopes they can perform it together one day. They are also interested in guesting together at various companies.
“It’s nice dancing with a partner that you know wants you to succeed and that you want to succeed as well – that trust makes the process so much more special,” Price says.
Overall, both Emma and Price agree that their marriage has not only been a blessing but also a catalyst. In addition to cheering one another on, they push each other and encourage each other, not only to be better dancers but also to be better people.
“We both have big goals and hopes with dancing. Our goals are basically to go as far as we can here with PNB. We love PNB and are so blessed to be here,” Emma says. “From the reps we get to do to the people we get to work with, it’s a really great place to be… We ultimately just want to grow and expand ourselves here and in whatever we do. We want to constantly be moving forward and not stagnate.”
Congratulations Emma and Price! And good luck in all your future dancing dreams and endeavors! We can’t wait to watch your journey! For more information on Emma Love Suddarth and Price Suddarth, visit www.pnb.org.
Photo (top): Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancers Emma Love Suddarth and Price Suddarth were married August 16, 2013 in Bonney Lake, Washington. Photo © Corliss Photography.