We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabby Foley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabby, what role has risk played in your life or career?
My entire career would have never started in the first place unless I had taken the life changing risk to move away from home at 15 to go to a prestigious ballet school instead of staying in the small town in Nebraska I was from. From that point on every step I’ve made in my career came from taking huge risks. Going to audition for things I never thought I would get in to, moving back and forth across the country more than once a year, and putting myself our there as much as I could to be able to follow my life long dreams.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What I love so much about art in general is that it is limitless, there is always more to explore in the world that is the art you create. Especially in dance where there are constantly things to improve on, the work is never done and it allows you to always continue to grow not only as an artist but as a person. Nothing that I have done to get to where I am has been easy in any way shape or form even now during the pandemic in an already underpaid art form dancers are trying to do whatever they can to stay dancing including myself which meant also trying to expand my knowledge in different styles of dance to still be able to book jobs that are on film while live shows are currently on pause. Learning entirely new styles of dance to be able to continue dancing professionally has been the biggest challenge and risk I have taken most recently but also has been such a learning experience that has allowed me to explore more aspects of myself as an artist and has also given me such a different perspective on what it means to express your true self within your art. Don’t get me wrong I will always be a ballerina and love ballet but behind the curtains and pointe shoes and tutus there is such a constant pressure to be the perfect that it leads to a lot of dancers being mentally and physically abused by directors, being forced into eating disorders and much more. Going into this art form with what is considered a more “womanly” body type was immediately a challenge that I had to overcome after trying to be forced into multiple eating disorders to obtain the perfect ballet body type. In the ballet community specifically there is also a large emphasis on gender binaries. All women must appear as feminine on stage as possible (while trying to obtain the body type of a 12 year old pre-pubecent boy) while the men are encouraged to seem as macho and manly while still maintaining the grace and delicacy of ballet which does give them a bit more room for their personal gender expression but still not much. I’m sure when you think of a male ballet dancer most would assume that person is gay but as a queer woman in ballet it has been so necessary for me to hide that part of myself to not be even more judged than we all already were. Learning how to slowly accept my body and sexuality for what they were has been the biggest lesson I have learned so far as an artist and has been what has kept pushing me to dance and create the most beautiful art that I can but also while encouraging a healthy environment that brings me the freedom to truly explore as an artist and to also give a voice to the hundreds probably thousands of dancers that have been abused in this industry.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite thing about San Diego is how beautiful it is and how much there is to do in nature. I love spending time in the ocean and exploring all of the beautiful beaches there are in San Diego, including all of the incredible and diverse cuisine the city has to offer I really don’t think I could have just one beach, hike or restaurant to recommend.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
If it wasn’t for the support of my family at Ballet Chicago I would have never made it to where I am in my career along with love and support from my close friends and my partner who have encouraged me to be my true self and keep pursuing my dreams.
Facebook: Gabby Foley
Ron Mckinney Carly Topazio Rachel Neville