Born: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Trained: North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem and Boston Ballet School’s Trainee Program in Massachusetts
Guilty pleasure song?
American Pie by Don McLean. I grew up listening to country music from the 60’s and 70’s with my Dad. He has great taste and loves the oldies. I’d like to think I’ve been influenced!
George Balanchine’s Serenade. The music is gorgeous. The costumes are simplistic and flatter the sweeping lines of the dancers. I cannot think of a more powerful piece of dance for an ensemble of women.
Do you feel as magical as you look?
Just after I graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts, I had the opportunity to perform Serenade at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. Performing my favourite ballet at this outdoor theatre under the nighttime sky full of stars and beaming moonlight was absolutely magical.Dating in or out of the ballet world?
I have been dating my boyfriend Skylar Campbell, a First Soloist with the company, for three years now, so I must vote “inside the dance world”! I admire his talent and artistry every single day. There is no one I find more inspiring at work and no one I’d rather go home with after the curtain comes down at the end of the night.
Philosophy towards my work?
Never accept no for an answer, work hard and honestly and believe in what you are doing.
I have battled against adversity and been told no countless times in my career. There is nothing worse than being told that the one thing you truly want is not right for you or that you will never achieve your goals. But I can say, that with time perseverance pays off. I believe that people who had to fight for what they want have a special appreciation for the determination it takes to achieve a professional level of whatever it is they are passionate about. A turtle really can accomplish as much as a hare, if they simply will it to happen.
If someone handed you $1,000,000?
Travel. I believe seeing the world is the greatest investment a person can make. It is the only thing you can buy that will truly make you richer. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”What would you have done if ballet hadn’t come your way?
I have always wanted to protect animals and been interested in science.
Milk or dark chocolate?
I don’t discriminate.
Favourite thing to do on a day off?
Living in Toronto has turned me into a bit of a foodie. Brunch is now my favourite meal and there will never been enough days off for all the coffees I want to drink.How do you handle criticism?
The criticism we receive as dancers is very personal. It is a daily learning curve to understand criticism, not as disapproval but as the transfer of knowledge.
Advice to young dancers?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Never let the desire to be perfect hold you back from taking risks and push yourself beyond what you think you can do. I’m still working on this daily and I believe it’s the only way to learn and progress.Jaclyn Oakley is sponsored through Dancers First by Renata M. Humphries.
Read Jaclyn’s bio, http://national.ballet.ca/Meet/Dancers/Corps/Jaclyn-Oakley
See Jaclyn onstage with The National Ballet of Canada during the 2015/16 season, national.ballet.ca