Q&A with Principal Dancer Cecilia Iliesiu

How has your approach to the career changed over time?

When I started my career at Carolina Ballet 14 seasons ago, I worked as hard as I could for every role and opportunity to perform, hustling to achieve the high bar required for a ballet career. This focus hasn’t changed for me, however I’ve come to realize how truly fortunate I am to dedicate my life to this art form. My career at PNB and the pandemic has taught me to take myself less seriously and whole-heartedly embrace my successes and struggles equally. Becoming a Principal Dancer is an achievement beyond my wildest dreams, and I aim to cherish each moment in the studio or on stage and share the lessons I’ve learned with the next generation of dancers.

Read Cecilia’s Dancer Bio

Do you have talents or passions outside of dance?

I am an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast. Every weekend PNB is not performing, I am usually out in the mountains, on the water, or riding my bike. Being outdoors helps me disconnect from the everyday routine and ground myself. My favorite hikes in the PNW have been summiting Mount St. Helens (twice!) and through-hiking the Enchantments.

What inspires you outside of the studio?

During the COVID pandemic, I began working with ballet teachers around the world, many located in Nigeria, Ghana, Argentina, Mexico, and beyond. The community, called Global Ballet Teachers, is an incredible group of teachers who have years of experience and want to share it with others and/or teachers who don’t have access to ballet training in their countries and want to learn everything about ballet education to better serve their students. I had the opportunity to travel to Nigeria in February 2021 to run a teacher workshop and this experience was unforgettable. Their passion and devotion to ballet is such an inspiration to me to never take my career for granted and to share all the knowledge to empower others to dance.

Photos by Angela Sterling & Lindsay Thomas