Alison Clancy is known for many things: singing, modeling, acting, but arguably the thing she is best known for is ballet. She has spent the past 10 years of her career dancing at The Metropolitan Opera, starring in shows such as “Romeo and Juliet,” “Rigoletto,” and “Don Giovanni.” The most recent show she starred in is “Der Fliegende Holländer” (The Flying Dutchman) by Richard Wagner. Unfortunately the performances of this show were cut short by COVID-19, however PBS is broadcasting footage of Clancy’s dance solo on July 16 and July 17 ( simultaneously streaming on Apple TV, Thirteen WNET New York, Roku, Amazon Fire TV) so you can watch it from home.
Clancy’s family is based in Imperial Beach. She said, “I grew up going to Camp Surf and watching my brothers compete in Junior Lifeguard events.” She returns to Imperial Beach every summer to soak in the sun and relax. Her father moved here for work when she was around 10 years old, and she still has two brothers that live in the area.
Clancy has been dancing since before she can remember. Her father worked on a campground, and she described how whenever they would have a live band playing, she could be found right next to the band dancing her heart out, “It was a really natural instinct for me,” she said.
When she was 7, she auditioned for a scholarship to Sierra Dance Institute in northern California. She was awarded the scholarship, and danced at that studio until high school. The terms of the scholarship required that she trained four days a week at minimum, so ever since she was 7 years old, Clancy has been training vigorously to improve her dancing abilities. She’s since danced at numerous studios all over the world. “As a scholarship student there’s a sense of mutual commitment, the people who ran the school were investing in me so it was really my role to invest in my craft,” said Clancy. “This period during the COVID-19 outbreak is the longest break I’ve had since I was seven.”
She likes to take classes at San Diego Ballet when she’s in Imperial Beach during the summer. “The fun thing about ballet is that in any city you go to, anywhere in the world, you can find ballet classes.” She said.
Clancy is part of the Zvi Dance company, and has been dancing in various shows at the Metropolitan Opera (The Met) in New York City for the past 10 years. The Met doesn’t have a dance company, so every show that Clancy has been in while there, she’s had to audition for individually. For every opera The Met brings in an entirely new crew; this has allowed Clancy to work with a multitude of different choreographers through the years. When dancing for The Met, Clancy said, “You never know what you’re going to get, and you get to live in all these fantasy realities. You open the stage door and you walk into the hallway and a whole posse of pirates pass you, or you might go into the cafeteria and see a bunch of soldiers and maidens, or you try to get on the elevator and there are show dogs and a donkey. It’s really surreal.”
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Clancy was dancing in the opera, “Der Fliegende Holländer.” In this opera, the Dutchman is cursed to sail the sea for eternity until once every seven years he is allowed to leave his ship in search of true love. If he finds her, and she is faithful, the curse will be broken. Senta is the name of the female lead, and the love interest of The Dutchman. According to Clancy, “[Senta] is someone who is not really satisfied with her mundane life weaving baskets in a fishing village, she dreams of a bigger, grander, more romantic life.” Anja Kampe plays Senta in The Met’s production of the opera, Clancy plays a sort of psycho-spiritual version of her. What makes her role so special is during her solo, Clancy explained, “I’m interacting with these massive 3D projections, I actually summon a huge ghost ship and a lightning storm, it’s just very magical. It’s a woman really embracing her own power to manifest the reality that she wants.”
Clancy’s 11-minute dance solo premiered on PBS on July 5, and will be broadcasting again on July 16 at 7 p.m. and July 17 at 4 a.m. and 11 a.m. Clancy explained what she hopes people will gain from watching the broadcast, saying, “I guess what I would want viewers to take away from it is to believe in magic. Believe in the power of imagination to create the reality you want to live in.”