Magazine article Pointe

Role Playing

Magazine article Pointe

Role Playing

Article excerpt

Energy and experience help Ballet San Jose's Maria Jacobs take on each character.

For Ballet San Jose's Maria Jacobs, ballet is about using real-life experiences to create whole characters on the stage. Her most shining examples: leads in Artistic Director Dennis Nahat's Romeo and Juliet and Giselle.

"My favorite role to date was dancing Juliet," says Jacobs, 29. "Besides Prokofiev's music filling my soul to emote, I personally was experiencing a new love at that time, engineer Ben Yu, who is still my boyfriend. I could use that to feel the highs and imagine the lows of losing your love."

Even when dancing the role of innocent maiden-gone-mad Giselle, Jacobs says she found the emotions easily.

"The infamous mad scene, choreographed by Nahat, was chillingly satisfying to portray," she says. "I love being able to cry onstage. Somehow it is therapeutic to release emotions that you don't even realize you are holding inside of you. In my opinion, this is something that life experiences teach you."

Her maturity may allow her to better take on the meaty roles, but those around her say that Jacobs had star power from the beginning.

"She entered our company years ago as a very young dancer," says Nahat. "She instantly took to the company, and her first principal role was Maria in The Nutcracker. I stood in the wings watching her first performance, and everyone stood behind me watching with such pleasure saying, 'Well, there's a ballerina.'"

The petite dancer has been with the California company for 12 seasons, after a brief stint as a trainee at Cleveland Ballet. …

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