Stories of Real People: There are no dead ends

People who have made it to the top of their careers are interesting to study. Precious few come back down the mountain to learn something new again. Collecting stories of real people embracing continuous learning is inspiring to me. I hope you benefit, as I do, from their example.


Former PNB ballerina Ariana Lallone soars in second career with Teatro ZinZanni

When Ariana Lallone left Pacific Northwest Ballet after nearly 25 years, she took up a new career: dancing midair high above the dinner-theater audience, with a hoop as her partner.

There’s more than one way for a dancer to fly.

For nearly 25 years, Ariana Lallone lit up the stage at McCaw Hall as a member of Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), with her dramatic intensity, sky-reaching limbs (she’s 5 feet 11) and soaring technique making her an audience favorite. When her PNB career ended in 2011, Lallone knew that she wanted to keep performing. Eight years later, look up, and there she is — an aerial artist with Teatro ZinZanni, dancing midair high above the dinner-theater audience, with a hoop as her partner.

“It feels exactly like you would think it would feel,” said Lallone, grounded for a chat in a Queen Anne coffee shop last month, of her five-shows-weekly flights to the ceiling of ZinZanni’s tent in their current production of “Hollywood and Vine.” “It’s amazing! It’s very thrilling. I love it.”

Lallone’s seven-year association with ZinZanni began shortly after her final PNB performance — “literally the situation of when one door closes, another one opens,” she said. ZinZanni artistic director Reenie Duff, who had long admired Lallone’s work at PNB, approached her to play a ballerina role in “Bonsoir Liliane!” In the show, which opened in the fall of 2011, Lallone wore a red tutu, did some barre work and “very nervously” joined in the opening and closing song.


Ballet can be a notoriously short career. While many of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s retired dancers have remained in the ballet world, others have found more unconventional second careers; here's a sampling.

Christine Haskell, PHD has built her practice working with the insanely talented and highly creative across multiple sectors. In the Stories of Real People Series, you’ll find stories of real people doing extraordinary things, shareable joy, and links to the full source material.