Pacific Northwest Ballet member wins national honor, Princess Grace Award
The Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) is home to many spectacular shows, graceful dancers and fierce talent. Last November, a member of the PNB’s “corps de ballet,” Margaret Mullin, received the Princes Grace Award for her exceptional contribution to the field of dance. Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with Maggie (as she likes to be called) to talk with her about her upbringing, traveling to New York City to attend the Princess Grace Awards Gala (meeting Julie Andrews!) and what the future holds for her. I believe that you will find her story inspiring and her honor well deserved, as I did. But first, a little history. The Princess Grace Foundation is a nationwide organization that identifies and recognizes emerging talent in the fields of dance, theater and film by awarding grants in the form of scholarships, apprenticeships and fellowships. It was named after the famed American actress turned Royal, Princess Grace of Monaco who believed that fresh talent is the key to sustained excellence in the arts. After Her death in 1982, Prince Rainier III of Monaco created the foundation as a tribute to Grace’s appreciation for emerging talent. His family is involved in the organization to this very day. In 2011, 31 people received an honor from the foundation: the Princess Grace Award.
Maggie is everything you might expect a dancer to be: poised, graceful and professional. However, what surprised me most was her humility and the passionate dedication to her craft. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona while attending the Ballet Arts School from age nine to eighteen and can recall wanting to do nothing else but dance. It was a difficult road to achieve what she has today; her mother had health difficulties when she was younger but inevitably they supported one another throughout good times and bad. According to Maggie, these experiences allowed her to learn more about what she wanted her life to be like and to set high goals and standards for herself.
In Tucson, Maggie was able to observe and learn from many different dancers, many of who were women. “The dance industry has historically featured men in most positions of authority, so it was empowering for me to see these women who were fearless and masters at their craft. I was very fortunate to have the accomplished Mary Beth Cabana as my Artistic Director and mentor for all of my schooling.” Another of these inspiring women was Amanda McKerrow, who was one of Ms. Mullin’s dance coaches in Arizona. It was through her mentorship that Maggie first learned about the Princess Grace Foundation and eventually decided to move up north to pursue dance as her career. After joining the Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2008 she advanced quickly and started performing in major shows including ‘A Mid Summer Night’s Dream’ and ‘The Sleeping Beauty.’ She also began working on her own choreography, creating a piece for PNB's Next Step performance last June.
After completing a grueling essay and video submission Maggie received notice that she was a recipient of the Princess Grace Dance Fellowship Award and would be traveling to New York City to attend the foundation’s Gala in the Fall of 2011. While I was speaking with Maggie she smiled at the mention of the Gala and I was curious what her favorite part was. The first was meeting the other award recipients and feeling a special sense of achievement because she was surrounded by individuals who, like her, are mastering their craft and plan to make a difference in the world. She also met Julie Andrews, who was being honored that night; “She was extremely humble and nice…it was such an inspiration to meet a woman of that stature who had inspired so many others," said Maggie.
As a recipient of the Prince Grace Award, Maggie has the unique opportunity to access grants intended to enhance the dance, theater and film professions. When I asked her what she planned to do with the this opportunity she replied, without missing a beat; “I want to develop a website that reaches out to young dancers and gives them information about the profession…the good and the bad. Young people should know what being a dancer entails and should have the opportunity to be connected to the industry in this way.” It is delightful to see that after being supported by a loving mother, strong mentors and Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet, Maggie wants to give back to her community in a way that will improve the careers of other young dancers. Peter Boal, the director of the PNB, says this about Ms. Mullin; “Maggie is an artist of tremendous potential and versatility. Her talent along with a strong work ethic and an engaging stage presence are all part of this well-deserved honor.”
Maggie Mullin ended our interview by answering a question about how these experiences have shaped her as a person. She responded, with humble enthusiasm; “I am not afraid to be confident! I am very excited to use this confidence to further my career and to enhance and preserve the art form that I love so much”
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Thank you to the PNB, Maraget Mullin for their contributions to this article.
Photo credit: Ed Flores.