Versatility and adaptability: Inspiration from Megan Buckley

Being a working dancer in the 21st century requires versatility and readiness to accept new challenges. We consider Megan Buckley a wonderful example of a ballerina who takes a thoughtful approach to her career and makes the most of each opportunity.

As a trainee with Milwaukee Ballet II, Megan answered an audition call for Maine’s Portland Ballet Company. She’d been injured that year and missed much of the audition season, but fortunately Portland’s audition was later than most and Megan was fit and ready.

For five years, Megan enjoyed performing principal and soloist roles with the eclectic, classically based Portland Ballet. “We got to do a little bit of everything,” she says. “I loved the diversity of their repertoire.” She also appreciated the diversity in style, perspective and body type among her fellow dancers, “all these beautiful women from all different backgrounds.”

Living in Maine was a new and pleasant experience, but Megan’s Midwestern ties – she’s from St. Louis and her parents currently live in Chicago – led her in 2014 to look at companies closer to home. She auditioned for Cleveland’s Verb Ballets in May and was under contract virtually overnight, beginning rehearsals in June. “It’s been non-stop since then, and it’s still just sinking in,” she said in July. “I love that I get to work this much.”

Verb has proven to have an even more diverse repertoire than Portland, from classical to contemporary to what Megan calls “modern hip hop fusion.”

Her ability to move so gracefully from one style to the next is no accident. “I’ve always valued versatility,” she says. As a pre-professional, she took classes in different genres whenever possible, as well as going to master classes with ballet teachers who taught in a variety of styles.

“If a new master class comes to town and it feels odd to you, if it stretches your limits, take it,” she advises pre-professionals. “If you want to be a real dancer, you can’t afford not to.”

She remembers taking Horton and Graham classes during her training in New York. With Verb, one of the first pieces she learned was “all Horton, and so intense,” she says. “If I hadn’t taken those classes seriously, I wouldn’t have made it through alive!”

Even with a company that’s more classical, Megan reminds us that contemporary performance is still likely to be required. “Everyone’s meshing [genres], and that’s reflected on stage,” she says. “You should have a classical foundation – classical technique and finesse – but build on top of it and be open to extra-curricular dance forms. You never know.”

About Megan Buckley

Megan is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, where she trained and performed with Alexandra Ballet Company while attending summer intensives with American Ballet Theatre. She has been a trainee at Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and with Milwaukee Ballet II, a guest artist with Thodos Dance Chicago and Alexandra Ballet, and a company member for five years of Portland Ballet Company in Maine, performing principal and soloist roles. In addition to her busy performance career, Megan teaches Pilates, Zumba and ballet, and she furthered her education with PeffPointe Teacher Training in 2011. In June 2014, Megan joined Cleveland’s Verb Ballets.


Megan Buckley of Verb Ballets, photo by Melissa Mendise – Courtesy of Verbs Ballet

Megan Buckley in front of Fourth Presbyterian Church, photo by Eddie Eng, Chicago – Courtesy of Megan Buckley

Megan Buckley as Giselle, photos by Arthur Fink, Portland, Maine –Courtesy of Portland Ballet Company and Arthur Fink

Megan Buckley in front of Fourth Presbyterian Church, photo by Eddie Eng, Chicago – Courtesy of Megan Buckley

Megan Buckley rehearsing Swanhilda for Alexandra Ballet – Courtesy of Alexandra Ballet and Megan Buckley

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