LAUREN LOVETTE IN NEW YORK, MARCH 2014. BRA AND BRIEFS: KLAWTEX. STOCKINGS: FALKE. STYLING: VANESSA CHOW. COSMETICS: MAKE UP FOR EVER, INCLUDING CAKE EYELINER IN BLACK, SMOKY EXTRAVAGANT MASCARA IN BLACK, AND SCULPTING BLUSH IN SATIN INDIAN PINK. HAIR PRODUCTS: RENEÌ FURTERER, INCLUDING VOLUMEA VOLUMIZING AND CONDITIONING SPRAY AND MOUSSE VEÌGEÌTALE. HAIR: JENNIFER YEPEZ FOR RENEÌ FURTERER / MAREK & ASSOCIATES. MAKEUP: KRISTI MATAMOROS FOR MAKE UP FOR EVER /KATE RYAN INC. SPECIAL THANKS: FAST ASHLEYS.
The glamour of Lincoln Center’s expansive plazas fades quickly as you cross the threshold of the David H. Koch Theater’s stage door. Endless marble gives way to low ceilings and beige carpet. A narrow hallway winds through administrative offices, and into a small, windowless room deep below the theater. There, New York City Ballet soloist Lauren Lovette sits waiting. “I know, I know,” she says with a shrug, gesturing at the surroundings. “But I’ll be honest, this is what ballerina life looks like.”
Those expecting a morose, sallow-faced black swan might be surprised by this ruddy-cheeked 22-year-old from Thousand Oaks, California. Her demeanor—confident and self-deprecating—recalls a certain kind of cheerleader back in high school who quit the squad to join drama club; only in this case, Lovette quit home at 14 to travel alone to New York to train for one of the world’s most prestigious ballet institutions. That was 2006. She became an apprentice in 2009, joined the corps de ballet in 2010, and was promoted to soloist in February 2013. The years of hard work have paid off with leading roles in six Christopher Wheeldon ballets and numerous other featured roles, including Peter Martins’s Swan Lake and Bal de Couture (with its Valentino costumes), and George Balanchine’s La Sonnambula and Coppélia.
“I’m a romantic, so I like music with a full melody. I like the emotional stuff, the story ballets,” she says. “But then there are those productions that may not have a specific story, but one comes through the music or what the choreographers put together. I like to try to figure it out. I try to see the story somehow.” At the NYCB, dancers only know what parts they’ve won two weeks in advance. The future, even the rest of the spring season, which began at the end of April, is always opaque. “I’m learning something new tomorrow, Balanchine’s Raymonda Variations,” says Lovette. “His are coveted roles, so I’m excited to be learning it.” She’ll likely repeat many of her starring turns from last year, including the one she danced last fall in Benjamin Millepied’s Neverwhere, a role she originated—which meant working with Millepied to create the choreography, getting to be his “clay,” as she puts it.
“I love to take a role everyone’s done and put Lauren into it,” she says. “But there’s a different feeling when it’s a role created for you. That’s yours.” Her creativity has bloomed of late, and Lovette has begun exploring life beyond West 63rd Street and Columbus Avenue. “Even small things like having time to read or learning to sew,” she says. “The more well-rounded your life, the better your art is on stage.”