Over the next two weeks, principal dancer Rachel Foster and corps de ballet dancer Leta Biasucci will share a professional milestone—both women will debut as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Performing the role well requires exceptional artistry and mastery of classical ballet technique. I caught up with Rachel and Leta between rehearsals this week to hear about how they are preparing for the role and here’s what they said:


“Of all the story ballets I’ve done, this one is definitely the most challenging. Technically you have to be really clean. And, in terms of artistry, there are subtle changes in the portrayal of Aurora for each act that are really important—they are what make people believe you’re a princess.”

“I never thought I would get to do this role. It’s the biggest honor in my ballet career. I’ve had an amazing time learning this role and the coaching that I’ve gotten has been incredible. The whole process has been challenging and rewarding. It’s really helped me grow as an artist.”

PNB principal dancers Rachel Foster and Batkhurel Bold with Artistic Director Peter Boal.

“People say that I’m strong, but the ballet is still challenging for me! It’s really detailed, tedious work. But I’ve found that the time you spend focusing on the details is always well spent. The details are what make for a great performance.”

“My partner [Batkhurel] Bold is amazing! I don’t have to worry about anything when I’m dancing with him. And, he’s a beautiful dancer–which forces me to up my game even more!”

“The role requires a lot of slow, controlled movement and I knew that learning it would be hard. My first Rose Adagio was a nightmare start to finish and I wondered, “Am I going to be able to do this?” But you just have to keep pushing yourself. The more you do it the easier it becomes.”

“I usually arrive two and a half hours before the show and do my hair and makeup. I take my time with everything. I warm up, get my shoes ready, and do a spacing mark though. I’m not a superstitious person but I keep a routine so that I feel prepared and don’t forget anything.”

“When I lose myself in a part, that’s when I’m happiest with a show. So, for this ballet, I just want to go out there and have fun…I want to feel like a princess.”


“You hear ballerinas talk about how hard it is, but you can’t fully appreciate just how hard, and how rewarding, it really is until you try your hand at it.” 

PNB corps de ballet dancer Leta Biasucci with principal dancer Seth Orza.

“To prepare for the most challenging parts of the role, like the balances in the Rose Adagio, I do a lot of visualizing. I go through my corrections and refine my approach. I also watch videos of dancers like Kaori Nakamura and Marianela Núñez”  

“What makes this role so hard is that it is so technically demanding and there’s nowhere to hide. Each step requires clarity and precision. You can’t just dance through a mistake.”

“I do have some pre-show rituals, like making sure I eat some protein and resewing on my ribbons. There’s a lot that can go right onstage and a lot that can go wrong. Your shoes are one thing you can control and if they come apart while your dancing, that’s on you.”

“I make my debut as Aurora on Super Bowl Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be rooting for the Seahawks, but only after the curtain comes down. Until then, I’ll be pretty focused on staying en pointe!”

“So far, I’ve done two full run throughs with the Company watching. I’m not exactly sure what a successful debut as Aurora will feel like, but I think I’ll be thrilled if I can transport the audience into the fairy tale with me.”

Blog by Judith May Austin; photos by Lindsay Thomas.

Featured photo: PNB principal dancers Rachel Foster & Batkhurel Bold in rehearsal for The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Lindsay Thomas