Courtney Blackwell was born and raised in Dallas, Tex. She studied dance at Juilliard and earned a B.F.A. from the School in 2002. She joined the staff in 2006 as performance coordinator for the Jazz Studies program, and went on to become director of career services in June 2008. Previously, she was a soloist with the Ballet Theater Munich and a Pilates instructor at Pure Body Movements in New York City.
What do you remember most about your first day on staff at Juilliard?
What I remember most is how amazingly quiet the School was. I started a few days after July 4 so most everyone was away on vacation. It was like a ghost town—a huge contrast to how things would be a few weeks later. I remember being very excited to see familiar faces and receiving the exact same ID number I’d been assigned when I was a student.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
This is a very difficult question because I really enjoy my current position. That being said, it might be interesting to work in the Music Technology Lab for a day. The opportunity to be directly involved in a classroom that is constantly creating, re-creating, and exploring how music and technology intersect would be fascinating.
What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had and what made it so?
My most memorable job was with the Ballet Tech School. I had the opportunity travel to New York public schools and teach/audition young kids with no prior dance training to enter the Ballet Tech ballet program. The kids were adorable and seeing them dig into these dance movements with abandon and self-confidence was eye-opening. The natural movement ability and interest that many of the children demonstrated validated why we as a staff needed to be there. Even more importantly, many of the kids would have never even thought of dance as an option because outside of this one time offering, they had never been exposed to the art form.
Many Juilliard staff members are also artists. How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
The balance of my artistic endeavors has shifted from purely dancing and choreographing to making creation and performance for emerging artists possible. Although my work day does not take place in a dance, music, or drama studio, I consider my work to be an artistic endeavor. The job duties constantly require artistic creativity in problem solving, program creation, and methods of communication. Organizing performances is like a choreography of sorts, you must magically make all of the different logistical elements come together in a beautiful, coordinated, harmonious work of art.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
I continue to pursue teaching Pilates mat and machine work, which I am very passionate about. One of the factors contributing to my exit from performing was a hip injury. During my recovery, Pilates was the only thing I could do to keep my hip feeling stable and to remain active. When I saw how clearly Pilates improved my hip pain, more than any other form of therapy and exercise, I was convinced. I studied the technique more in depth and became a certified trainer. Through this work I have a renewed understanding of the human body and its mechanics. It is also a joy to see the bodies of my clients change and their chronic aches and pains cease through consistent Pilates training.
What was the best vacation you’ve had and what made that trip so special?
After visiting Bermuda in the summer of 2002, I’ve concluded that it must be paradise. This is definitely my best vacation to date. It was special not only because of the sheer beauty of the island, but I was able to share the experience with two people whom I cherish—my parents—so it involved very special, quality time with them as well.
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
The diversity of the people and the general acceptance of the city’s diversity. It seems that since there are so many people and so little space, people are surprisingly more respectful of personal space and personal taste.