Below we share a peek into her background and daily life, as well as some honest advice – Meet our Muse: Taylor Sambola
How long have you been dancing and how did you start?
22 years! At a young age, I told my parents from the get-go that I wanted to be a Professional Ballerina.
What is one thing you wish more people knew / understood about ballet? Any misconceptions you’ve encountered?
First off, there are so many things I wish people understood about ballet! One thing that’s important to my heart currently; I want both dancers and non-dancers to understand that it’s ok for everything to not go as planned! A lot of the time, our careers aren’t in our own hands.
Normally you highlight how you started, what company you’re in, then you retire. We don’t usually talk about the parts in between. If you’ve auditioned for the same company for years or tried to land your dream role for years and haven’t yet, that doesn’t mean you’re not a good dancer or a bad person. Keep working hard and remember why you started to begin with!
A common misconception I seem to come across is this: That my career is not an ACTUAL job!
I work 40+ hours a week just like any other conventional job. Plus we have to push our bodies to the absolute extreme all while holding an effortless smile.
Ballet isn’t some “after school club.” I make my living as a dancer, which I’m beyond grateful for!
When / how did you add Pilates into the mix? When did you decide to become an instructor?
I started Pilates at 13! I was incredibly grateful to work with two fabulous Pilates Instructors in my hometown of New Orleans, one of them being a Professional Ballerina. Not many people would work with me because of my age, but they did!
I decided to get certified when I was 16 because I saw the incredible benefits Pilates was giving me in my ballet career. I loved the way it made my body feel and I wanted to share that realization with others!
In your opinion, what’s the most important thing to remember as an instructor? What’s the most challenging part, and what’s the most rewarding?
To me, the most important thing to remember as an instructor is also the most challenging! I have to constantly remind myself that everyone's body and strengths are different!
When I started teaching I mostly worked with Dancers. So there was always that constant drive in each client to push themselves to pain’s doorstep to get the maximum benefit of class.
But not everyone has the same mindset as dancers. Pilates is equally as beneficial to people with desk jobs, parents, pregnant women and other athletes! So I have to remember that everyone is on their own workout journey with their body, I’m just there to help facilitate it to the fullest.
The greatest reward for me is hearing from clients that have unlocked new physical and mental abilities via Pilates! They experience a full body transformation from deep in their core (literally and metaphorically!) that helps them achieve a new standard in their lives!
Many of us have experienced tremendous changes to our everyday lives over the past few months. Studio workouts and dance performances have been some of the professional fields most greatly impacted. How did you initially react to this, and how are you feeling about it now? How have you pivoted your current work, and has this affected long term plans at all?
Honestly, nothing really has changed for me. I was already working at home as an alternative to working in a studio before the pandemic because I had to change companies very late in the audition season. I had several options lined up but everything was cancelled when the virus hit.
So in some way, because life already gave me the tools I needed to forge on, I was fortunate enough to transition easier than most. I am hoping that everything can resume someday soon and I can continue my audition season where I left off, but until then, I remind myself that I’m not alone! That every artist, stretching beyond only ballet, is going through this.
I chose to take this time as a gift rather than curse! I got to spend more time with my family, I also had the chance to truly pursue Pilates and dive in headfirst and I can plan my wedding with excitement! All things I wouldn't normally be able to do without pressure!
What does a normal day look like for you right now?
Nowadays, my day is mostly spent online offering free Pilates classes! I decided to do this when I realized we all might be in this for the long haul. Giving dancers an easy and affordable way to stay in shape was my way of giving back to the arts through my Pilates certification.
With that said, a normal day consists of 2-3 online classes as well as keeping myself in shape.
I recently just started teaching 2 Heated Mat classes at Romney Studios in New Orleans (following proper health protocols of course), which is the studio I trained with when I was young!
Keeping a routine has been very important to me!
What do you like to do when you’re not dancing?
When I’m not dancing or teaching, I spend a lot of time planning my wedding! It’s been a great blessing to be planning in the same place that I’m getting married in!
I have recently become a big golf fan! I got a small set of clubs and my fiancé taught me how to play. Being on a beautiful course while observing nature is so peaceful for me. I also enjoy the fact that I can do something that I love and not be expected to be good at it. It’s a great feeling!
Community has been so top of mind these last few years, with people making efforts to connect more in person and online. Have you found the dance community to be relatively tight knit, or is it difficult to stay in touch with people moving about relatively often? How does it compare to the fitness community, in your experience?
I definitely think the dance community has gotten tighter recently than in the past! I have actually heard from old dancer friends that I haven’t talked to in years. It’s been great to reconnect!
In the end, no matter what rank you are in a company or how many followers you have etc. dancers have proven that we’ll all do our part to become closer!
As for the fitness community, they have welcomed me with open arms! The parallels between the two are so similar. They’re full of people who want to better themselves by bettering each other!
How are you staying connected with your communities these days?
Social Media has become a great tool for me to connect with everybody! It allows you to be a part of whatever community you want. Especially during a time where we are all physically distanced from one another!
How do you handle it all? Any secrets to share? Can’t-live-without morning routines or magical power snacks? Any mantras or practices that keep you going?
My personal quote that I live by is “Have courage and be kind.” In this artform, those two words can easily be taken from you, so I remind myself that everyday!
The future is a huge question mark for right now...which is terrifying! I choose to take it day by day and enjoy the space I’m in between right now!
My fiancé and I are enjoying staying in shape and getting ready for audition season!
I’m currently working on getting Reformer certified, which is extremely exciting!
We share an appreciation for embracing our feminine fortitude and encouraging that in other women! We like to use the motto “be the belle” as a reminder to be the very best version of ourselves that we can each day. What does “be the belle” mean to you?
To Be Yourself! You are a true original and there's no one else on this Earth that can do what you can do! Make the world as beautiful as you are!
follow Taylor's adventures | @taytayballet