Andrea Basile was living her childhood dream.
All the hours spent in the studio practicing to perfection, pushing herself mentally and physically and leaving home at just 17 years old for ballet school paid off. She was dancing professionally across the nation, and loving it.
“I just remember looking out into the huge opera house and thinking, ‘Is this even real?’,” says Basile, describing one of her fondest moments on stage while performing Swan Lake.
There were a few moments like this in her 18-year career when Basile felt like she reached all the goals she ever wanted to achieve.
Then, when Basile was rehearsing for an upcoming tour on a new, stickier floor, she felt a pain in her calf.
“There was a moment where something was clearly wrong.”
Because she was with a small company at the time, she did not have an understudy to cover her role — she couldn’t take time to heal. She had to keep dancing through the end of the tour season.
Without health insurance, she eventually couldn’t keep her physical therapy going and had to stop dancing.
“There’s a lot of emotions that go into that, because you feel like your dream is essentially crushed. And so I kind of honestly gave up, which I really regret,” she says.
But this year, Basile took an opportunity to start a new chapter in her life as the school director at Boulder Ballet, where she uses a wellness-focused approach to mentor students.
Starting her career
Since her first ballet class in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she grew up, Basile knew she wanted to be a professional dancer.
Although Basile doesn’t remember making a conscious decision to join dance (she was 5), once she started, she never looked back.
“[My mom] tells me that my friend was in it,” Basile says. “She was like, ‘Oh, your friend is doing it, so I’ll just put you in it.’”
Soon, she got into the San Francisco Ballet School and was on her way to beginning her career in San Francisco.
In her nearly two-decade career, she performed with dance companies in the San Francisco area and in New York and Georgia.
After her injury, Basile ran a successful skincare business in San Francisco for six years. Although she was passionate about her business, it wasn’t as fulfilling for her as dancing. She was reminded of this whenever she would go see a dance performance.
“It was like a grieving process of what I felt like I had lost when I had finished too soon. [I felt like] there’s so much more in me and that I should actually be dancing,” she says.
After getting back into performing for a few years, her career changed direction again, this time because she was pregnant. In her last performance, she danced with her daughter in her belly.
Coming to Boulder
Reflecting on her performance career, it isn’t the big companies or concert halls that Basile remembers the most — it’s the relationships and camaraderie she built working with smaller companies.
“The relationships that are built are pretty incredible,” she says. “The majority of everybody that I’ve danced with are still lifelong friends.”
One of those relationships was with Ben Needham-Wood, the artistic director at Boulder Ballet, who also started with the company this summer. Needham-Wood and Basile danced for a summer together in 2011 in San Francisco and have stayed in touch since.
“It was a really special summer with everyone who was involved in that production and so we all felt like we became best friends,” says Needham-Wood, who had a 12-year dance career himself.
When the school director position opened at Boulder Ballet, Needham-Wood thought Basile would be a great fit.
Even during her performance career, Basile has always taught dance. She established the Five Point Dancer Method in her teaching, a practice that prioritizes the mental and physical health of dancers.
Basile thought of the hardest parts of her personal journey to develop this method — the injury, the physical and mental support and the physical toll of being a professional dancer. The five points — mindset, work ethic, nutrition, injury prevention and cross training — help students become better dancers and provides a framework for life skills.
“I think [the Five Point Dancer Method] does a really amazing job integrating more sides of the human than a typical dance education would, that allows dancers to really embody their fullest potential,” Needham-Wood says.
After using this method for years, Basile sees more body awareness, less injuries and a shift in mindset and work ethic.
The relationship Basile has with Needham-Wood and Claudia Anata Hubiak, Boulder Ballet’s executive director who Basile also previously worked with, were strong factors in her decision to take the job in Boulder. Coming in, Basile knew she would be working with like-minded people.
“I’m very excited with all the people I’m working with. And it just, honestly, it just feels 100%, right. Like this is, this is where I need to be,” she says.