The Pennsylvania Ballet is lucky soloist Gabriella Yudenich gave up on her first career goal.
“I really wanted to be a paleontologist,” Yudenich says with a laugh. “I sometimes still regret it — I have fantasies of digging up dinosaur bones.”
The Voorhees, N.J.-native is dancing in the Pennsylvania Ballet’s version of George Balanchine’s classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” opening March 7 at the Academy of Music. She’ll play three different roles, including the lead, Titania, and Hippolyta the Queen of the Amazons, during the show’s seven-performance run.
“You’re rehearsing in one role with one cast in the morning, then another in the afternoon,” Yudenich says. “It’s awesome that you keep switching — but it’s also very challenging.”
The show, set to a Felix Mendelssohn score, is based on Shakespeare’s comedic fantasy about a mix of mortals and immortals searching for their soul mates in the forest. (In case you slept through high school English, it’s the one that gives us the line “the course of true love never did run smooth,” and illustrates that maxim by featuring Titania the fairy queen falling in love with Bottom, a human who’s been turned in an ass.)
Yudenich and the other dancers spent about a month rehearsing the show, though they started learning bits and pieces of the choreography long before that, in between rehearsals for other shows — which can occasionally get confusing for a lead dancer and new mom like Yudenich. But the 29-year-old is an old pro: both of her parents danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet, and she started following in their footsteps — literally — at age 6.
“I quit on and off as a kid. I was fascinated by dinosaurs. But then I decided I wanted to be a ballerina,’ Yudenich says. “I told my mom, and she said ‘Oh, we have a lot of work to do.’”
If you go
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
March 7 to 17
Academy of Music
240 S. Broad St.
$30 to $125