Dance Mogul Q + A:
Dance Mogul: When did you develop a love for dance?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: My mother runs a beautiful dance studio in Georgia; I grew up surrounded by dance from the beginning. Dance was a given element in my life that I enjoyed, and I went along for the ride during my formative years. It wasn’t until college that I fully realized how special dance and being an artist is. It took a certain maturity and dedication to understand its depths.
Dance Mogul: How did you develop a work ethic to be progressive and successful?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: I have been given a great example of work ethic from my parents. Mostly do what you are passionate about, try your best, be kind to yourself and others, don’t be taken advantage of, define your success, and find a balance between work and play. These are some of the guideposts for my work ethic.
Dance Mogul: Did you have family support?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: Yes, I have always been fortunate to have the emotional support of my family throughout my career.
Dance Mogul: When did you realize you could be a professional?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: During a summer in High School, I had a job dancing at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. That was my first paycheck as a working dancer.
Dance Mogul: How was it dancing for Ballet Hispanico?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: I learned a lot from dancing at Ballet Hispanico. It was my first time on tour and dancing in a full-time company. It was an honor to be under the guidance of founder Tina Ramirez in her final year as the acting director.
Dance Mogul: How was it dancing for the MET?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: Dancing at the MET is a dream job! Each opera is uniquely different, allowing me to perform various dance styles and fabulous costumes throughout the years. The caliber of diverse artists in the building is inspiring, and the friendships I continue to make are particularly fulfilling. The stage is like no other to dance on; it has its persona, the Grand Diva. I am proud to be a dancer at the Met and to be included in its history.
Dance Mogul: What have been some of your most memorable dance moments?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: Dancing in the recent production of La Traviata, with choreography by Lorin Laterro, has been a highlight of my dance career. The stage is raked, the heels are high, and the lifts are wild. It is a thrill to throw all of yourself into a challenging role flanked by a strong company of supportive dancers. The role has a similar sensation to riding a roller coaster; you better be all in.
Dance Mogul: Tell us about any current projects you’re working on.
Elizabeth Yilmaz: I am in my third season as Co-Founder and Producer of Art Bath. Art Bath is a salon series of music, dance, poetry, circus art, opera, visual art, and more. It is held at the historic Blue Building in Manhattan. I can stretch myself creatively by curating these sublime evenings and meeting exceptional artists.
Dance Mogul: How did you survive the pandemic and overall day-to-day of 2020?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: In March of 2020, I was in the middle of my Met season. As we know, everything shut down abruptly. My husband, cat, and I went to stay with my parents in Georgia. We thought it would be two weeks, which turned into an unexpected six months away from NYC. The dance classes I was teaching in NYC went to Zoom, and I started teaching multiple socially distanced private lessons each day at my Mother’s dance studio. Looking back, I see I grew as a teacher during this time. I was also running the Instagram account for the Dancers of The Met. I organized weekly “live” classes for our community to stay connected somehow, even though we were all scattered geographically.
Dance Mogul: How has 2020 affected your artistic decisions and progress?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: As an artist, I am more grateful and observant of the beauty in each day. I am easier on myself and have less fear. If not now, then when mindset.
Dance Mogul: What advice do you have for all artists as they work their way back to normalcy?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: Be kind to yourself; it works out as it should.
Dance Mogul: What would you like your legacy with dance to look like 20 years from now?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: Wow, that is an interesting question. For starters, I hope to be seen as a bold advocate for the arts and a central figure in the fabric of the community. To continue to connect, create, and explore.
Dance Mogul: Tell us about your work at Joffrey.
Elizabeth Yilmaz: I LOVE teaching at Joffrey! As a former summer student, returning to the same beautiful studios on 6th Ave as a teacher is a full-circle moment. I teach ballet to Jazz and Contemporary Trainee students. They are strong, engaged, respectful, and passionate. It makes me excited and hopeful for the future of dance in many ways.
Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping you on your journey?
Elizabeth Yilmaz: My Mom and Baba for being as good as it gets.