By Allison Gupton of Dance Informa.
She’s not just her multiple pirouettes. She’s not just her gorgeous lines. Dusty Button, principal dancer for Boston Ballet, is so much more. She is a choreographer, dance fashion line designer, car enthusiast, dedicated wife and an inspiration to young dancers everywhere.
Dance Informa was fortunate enough to chat with Button about her inspirations, what a day in her life looks like and her advice for dancers wanting to pursue a career in ballet.
Tell me a little bit about where you’re from and your dance training. What made you want to pursue a more ballet-centric career?
“I am a Southern Bell, having grown up in South Carolina, and the training was much slower paced than that of London, New York City and Boston, as I learned once leaving home at a young age to pursue my career. I am very structured and of all genres that I studied, ballet seemed to be the one with the richest and most structured history. With a foundation like that I can only see room for growth.”
Who were your biggest influences growing up and who are your biggest influences now?
“My mother influenced me as a child as she led by example. [She] prepared me for the life that I live today. My biggest influence today is my husband. He is the foundation of which I wish to build an empire on and nothing inspires me more to push harder, jump higher and live better than being married to such a brilliant man. All of the success in the world will have no value without someone to share it with, but sharing it with someone gives it the value it deserves.”
What’s a typical day like in the life of Dusty Button?
“A day in my life is the polar opposite of any other ballerina. My husband and I wake up and listen to music while we cook breakfast together just before I have class. We hit Starbucks and he drops me at Boston Ballet, where I warm up to Lil’ Wayne and get my mind right to conquer the day. At mid-day we meet for lunch around the city before I return to rehearsals. Once rehearsals are over we hit the gym for weight training then home to work on our Ferrari and Ducati’s, play Call of Duty, watch movies or go for a cruise.
I like to dance when I am working but I like to experience all other dimensions of this world when I am not. A well-rounded dancer is good, but an educated human being is great.”
I see from your magnanimous social media presence that you are on faculty at some dance competitions/conventions. How is teaching at these conventions challenging? Do you see some resistance to ballet from competition dancers, or is that sentiment in the past?
“I believe that the hurdles standing between the start and finish lines of our goals are often mental rather than physical. A great teacher can break through and inspire any student, so the part that I find most challenging, yet ironically most rewarding, is that all students absorb knowledge in different ways… as a teacher it is my job to clear that hurdle.
Like most genres, there are dancers who are less adaptive to ballet, but I enjoy the challenge of maturing other artists’ palettes.”
What has been your favorite role? What is your dream role?
“I learn a little more about myself with each role that I perform, and because of that, I love them all. But if I were to choose one that I felt most connected to, it would be The Sugar Plum Fairy.
I have performed most of the roles that I dreamt about as a child, but my perpetual dream roles are those contemporary works that are created on me for a world premiere.”
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
“I feel that if we put a roof on our goals we may wind up being trapped under it, so for that reason I try not to place any limitations on the possibilities that may lay in my path. However, I am certain of some of the things that I will be working toward in that time. I would like to share my vision with others in the form of choreography on various companies and possibly within the realms of film or television. I like that my vision is blurry when looking into my future because the one thing that I can count on always being there is my husband. He is always by my side.”
What is some of your advice for young dancers wanting to pursue a career in ballet?
“As dancers, at times we can often forget that the world we live in does not revolve around the dance industry and we would be mistaken to not learn from any industry that someone believes in enough to dedicate their life to. I have learned more about dedication, hard work and the path to success from Formula 1 & Moto-GP racers than I have from dancers. So my advice is to keep your eyes open, absorb all knowledge and never forget that you can learn from the good and the bad. Never give less than your all because anything worth doing is worth doing right.”
Photo (top): Boston Ballet Principal Dusty Button in front of her and her husband’s Ferrari. Photo by Mitchell Button.