Style and Substance: Katelyn
Name: Katelyn Prominski
Location: New York City. Or, a hotel room somewhere across the continent of North America. She lives on a national tour, which means home is a different city every week.
Katelyn is a dancer. She has been in the ballet world for most of her career and has been part of some of America’s most prestigious companies – she’s danced with the Boston Ballet, the Pennsylvania Ballet and for Suzanne Farrell. To look at her today is to see a beautiful, lithe, extremely healthy woman and the current lead ballet dancer in a fantastically popular show – Flashdance the Musical. It hasn’t always been plain sailing though.
A few years ago, Katelyn came down with the H1N1 virus, which knocked her for six. After a 24 month struggle with debilitating post-viral symptoms, she thought her dancing career was at an end. Luckily, this wasn’t the case. She is shining example of what determination, hard work and an accurate diagnosis can achieve.
Katelyn Prominski – the dancing world’s comeback kid…Photos courtesy of DRGphotography.
Each company I have danced for has been such a unique experience. My career also spanned such formative years. I learned so much and grew into the person I am today.
I danced with each company I was with for a few years at a time, so it really feels like they were each a chapter in my life. I remember how nervous I was on opening night with my first company, and how one of the older, more seasoned dancers literally walked me through each entrance of that performance.
While dancing with my second company, I was in my early 20s, so I was dating a lot and finding the balance between having a successful work life and a satisfying social life.
While with my third company, I found the love of my life. It is great to look back at all my experiences and think about the fun we had, or how amazing it was to work with a specific choreographer or legend… It all really has come full circle.
As a child, ballet always seemed a bit boring to me. I think this was due, in part, to the fact that I was a skinny, weak little thing.
To this day, the thing that inspires me about my industry is the effortless strength and the persistant discipline that it takes to be a dancer. No matter how long I have been doing the same steps, they never get any easier. Dancers are always finding new ways to challenge themselves. The potential for growth is constant.
I also love the choreography process – becoming the interpreter of someone else’s vision.
It is extremely competitive, but it can also be incredibly supportive. My best friends are dancers and performers, and we take great care of each other, just as normal friends do! Since we spend so much time together and have often gone through similar tribulations, we know how to respond to another person in need.
However, I do feel like the Broadway world is generally more accepting than the ballet world. I see the difference most potently during the audition process. At Broadway auditions you get a lot of love for good execution. In the ballet world, there will always be someone behind you trying to kick higher, hold a balance longer, or turn more.
I was lucky enough to be on set for Black Swan and found it to be a fairly true representation of the ballet world.
Haha – we eat! Well, most of us! In all honesty, ballet dancers are really fun and determined people. Our careers are short, so we are also very ambitious!
It was a very scary time, but as they say, “the show must go on!” I went to many different doctors who would run tests and told me nothing was wrong with me. Every day, I went to sleep not knowing if I was going to wake up. But, I was committed to my career, and if the doctors told me I was fine, then I thought I must be fine! I ignored every sign that I should stop. It’s hard for a dancer to take off her pointe shoes and admit defeat. Finally, one of my mentors, Suzanne Farrell, literally had to do it for me.
What people don’t realise, is that no matter how long you have diabetes, it is different every day. So many outside forces affect your blood sugar, such as stress, activity, adrenaline… it’s not just what you eat and how much insulin you dose yourself with. It’s not an exact science.
As an athlete, I have to make each meal really count, especially when I’m performing. It’s important that the food will last me so that my numbers aren’t out of whack before or during the show. Inevitably, I will have a high blood sugar when I finish, but that is due to the excitement.
I’m still learning – I have only known about my diabetes for 22 months!
Ballet Beautiful is my favorite method of exercise! It was developed by former New York City Ballet dancer, Mary Helen Bowers, and it is formulated to give you long dancer-like muscles. It’s the workout of choice by many actors and models, and the best part is that you can take the live classes from anywhere, since they are streamed over the website. It’s the best way to keep my body in “ballet shape” if I’m not dancing, and great cross-training so I can stay strong!
Thank you! After getting diagnosed with diabetes, I thought my dancing days were long gone. I spent two years feeling so sick, with hardly the energy to even get out of bed.
My role as the lead ballet dancer with Flashdance could not be more perfect for me. I get to combine my ballet skills with street/hip hop dancing, singing, and even a little pole work!
I believe in karma. I think you get rewarded for living a good and honest life. If you are a criminal in one life, I’m not sure if that means you come back as something terrible, but I do think positive work is acknowledged.
I don’t think the soul ever dies. It can’t. After you die, how can it be “light’s out” and you just live in a box? Even if you may come back as a different person, I think you still have the same soul. I have had too many experiences with ghosts coming to visit to not believe in everlasting souls.
Home is where the heart is! Since I am always on the road, I consider my home as within myself and my loved ones. It does help to have an address in NYC, where I keep the bulk of my belongings.
Definitely. When I was dating, if they could not keep up with my schedule or understand my commitments, then they were out! I never wanted to date a dancer because I always thought that it would be too much to always be connected to the industry. I like to leave work at the theatre and have a separate home life.
However, when I started dating my current boyfriend (and recently retired dancer) over 4 years ago, I never wanted to be away from him! Even though we were dancing for the same company at the time, we had such an undeniable connection that it would have been impossible to not be together!
Every day, I always find myself thinking, “you never know…”
You never know what could happen, what you will be doing in six months, what dancing with a new partner will be like…
You can never be certain of the “inevitable” and you can never control another person’s actions or reactions. I try and do my best every day, but when I put those forces out into the world, who knows what they will turn in to?!