When it comes to classical ballet, it doesn’t get much more classic than “La Sylphide,” one of the oldest extant ballets, with one version choreographed by August Bournonville in 1836. And it’s still a favorite role for dancers, with new material to be mined from the lead character of the Sylph, or a fairy who falls in love with a human.
“I was 17 or 18 the first time I danced it,” says Tessa Moore, 24, who will perform as the Sylph for the Ballet Frontier of Texas production this weekend at the Scott Theatre. She also danced the role when Ballet Frontier staged it in 2011. “It was really the first principal role and character that I had the opportunity to do, and I did this extensive research of video from earlier versions and more modern takes to see the different interpretations.
“When you come back to a role, it’s an odd sensation,” she says. “You have the muscle memory but have to rediscover the role. You excavate all of that and it comes back to you.”
Moore was home-schooled while growing up in Azle, and when her 5-year-old sister took ballet lessons, Moore was fascinated with the art.
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“I would stand in the doorway and try to mimic everything she did,” Moore says. “By my second or third birthday I said, ‘I’m old enough to do it’ and was enrolled in ballet school.”
She eventually took lessons with Chung-Lin Tseng at Ballet Frontier, and quickly became a principal dancer. “La Sylphide,” which is re-created by Tseng from the Bournonville original, was one of the many lead roles she danced for the company. After high school, she was a trainee with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago for two years, and danced with other companies in Chicago and Denver. During that time, she would return to Fort Worth to dance roles in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Nutcracker” and others.
For this production of “La Syphilde,” Moore dances alongside Dan Westfield, whom she partnered with in the same ballet in 2011, and has danced with in other works.
“We’ve been dancing together for several years, but also going off and doing different things, and growing on our own,” Moore says. “That adds more layers to the characters. We’re super comfortable together, not afraid to try new things.”
Now back in Fort Worth, she’ll continue dancing with Ballet Frontier and guesting for other groups as she gets offers, trying to navigate through the competitive world of ballet, trying to find steady work with a company.
“For me it’s about the art and storytelling, and that’s what it has always been about,” she says. “Wherever I have the opportunity to do that, that’s the most important thing for me.”
- 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
- Fort Worth Community Arts Center, Scott Theatre