Weekend Wisdom

Suzanne Lopez Prisco ’89

“Don’t be afraid to do something that those around you aren’t doing.”
“When I graduated from KPS, I did something not many before me had done: I chose not to go straight to college. I knew early on that I wanted to be a professional dancer, and I was fairly certain I could be. Most ballet careers begin when dancers are in their teens, so I made the decision to defer college for a year, and if in that time I didn’t find work as a dancer, I’d continue my education. Six months later, I was offered a position in the second company of the Joffrey Ballet, which is for young dancers being groomed for the main company. In another year and a half, I had a job with the main company.

“My career dancing with the Joffrey was wonderful. I traveled the world and performed every role on my bucket list. I was seen as a smart and reliable dancer, and was often thrown into roles with little rehearsal. I greatly enjoyed working with choreographers and helping them sort out their ideas. But after two decades and two babies, it was time to retire.

“A few years later, after teaching at a number of schools and staging ballets at companies across the country, the Joffrey offered me my third position there: I became a ballet master. I teach ballet class; set the steps, spacing, and musicality of various works; and conduct rehearsals. I love this job because I get to use and develop new skills. I create the company’s daily schedules, orchestrating what 50 people are doing in three studios, nine hours a day. I helped edit our latest anniversary book. I speak at various events and pre-performance discussions. I navigate the various moods in a room to bring about the most productivity. All of these skills are a result of my Kent Place education.

“So my advice is this: Go for it! Have a backup plan and give yourself parameters, but don’t be afraid to do something that people around you aren’t doing. At the least, you won’t have regrets, and you just may end up fulfilling your dreams.

“And who knows? I may still go to college; it’s never too late for that.”

Photo credit: Cheryl Mann Productions

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Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.