Name: Jordan-Elizabeth Long
Job Title and Description: Soloist Ballet Dancer at Miami City Ballet
College Name/Major: Liberty University/Business Administration with a minor in International Studies
Instagram Handle: @jordanandjane
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
JL: I have two types of days: rehearsal days and performance days. Rehearsal days start with a 90-minute company class (taught by our director or a ballet master) at 10 a.m., followed by three hours of rehearsal starting at 11:30 a.m. These rehearsals might include big groups, small groups, me with just my partner or even me alone. The three hours might be divided into one or two parts, or may even involve working for three hours straight on a full-length ballet. At 2:30 p.m., we have a one-hour lunch break during which I will attend a physical therapy session or head home to walk my dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Jane Austen. At 3:30 p.m. we have another three hours of rehearsal, finishing at 6:30 p.m. Once I’m done, I go home to work on my college coursework for the week.
On performance days, we have a later class around 11 a.m. We usually have to rehearse the ballet for that evening on the stage after class. This might be because we’re in a different theater from our last show (we perform in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Naples) or because we have a new cast of the ballet— most pieces have two or three casts of dancers. After a three-hour break, we perform at 8 p.m. Occasionally, instead of an afternoon stage rehearsal, we will have a matinee performance.
What is the best part of your job?
JL: I enjoy all the aspects of my job. Some dancers say they only like performing, while others enjoy the studio work more. I can honestly say that I love the discipline of focusing in rehearsal and then the contrast of being onstage.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
JL: My first job was at the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I got the job by dancing at a ballet festival in Miami where someone affiliated with the company saw me dance. He recommended me to the artistic director of the ballet company. I flew to Amsterdam to audition and was offered the job.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
JL: I spent several summers as a teenager studying with Suzanne Farrell. She always said, “There will always be someone who can do something better than you. Someone who can jump higher. Someone that can turn more than you. But there will never be another you. There will never be another person with your personality, your face, what you have to give to the art form. That is what you have to rely on.”
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
JL: My biggest mistake was being too hard on myself. I look back on my career so far and wish I had enjoyed what I was doing at that moment rather than being so focused on a slip or failed step.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
JL: The most magical feeling was dancing on the stage of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center during Miami City Ballet’s tour to New York City in spring 2016. I danced one of my favorite roles, the first movement principal in George Balanchine’s “Bourée Fantasque.” I remember looking out at the audience and seeing that beautiful theater and thinking how lucky I was to be there, dancing George Balanchine’s choreography no less. My favorite part was taking my curtain call in the front of the stage and picking out my father’s white hair in the audience. I caught my parents’ faces and suddenly, in my mind’s eye, saw my journey in ballet from the beginning up until that moment. It was the best feeling ever.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
JL: It has been said many times, but I’ll say it again: never give up. I’ve had times when I thought all of my doors were sealed shut and suddenly a window of opportunity appeared. Just when you think it’s time to throw in the towel, that’s usually when you will find the strength to continue on, in an even better way.
What’s the one thing that’s stood out to you the most in a resume?
JL: I believe that diverse experiences, through travel and education, help a resume stand out. Living outside the United States—even for a short amount of time—is an invaluable opportunity for any young adult. After living in Europe for five years, I was left with a different perspective. I would encourage all students to find a way to explore new places, cultures and languages.