It was about four years that Barbara and I went and interviewed them.
But what about you reintegrating yourself into the company?
When I was visiting them and interviewing them, I would take classes while I was there. But I was also still acting and doing "Party of Five" at the time and "Scream" and all the movies. I wasn't able to dance consistently. Not until I found out that we were a go with this project was I able to just let everything else go and start training again. I trained 8 1/2 hours a day for 4 1/2 months. And then another 8 1/2 hours a day with the Joffrey for a month and a half because I had to learn all the ballets with them.
How tough was that for you after being away for nine years?
It was grueling, but it was also phenomenal. It would be like telling a Buddhist monk that he had meditated his whole life and then you took it away. Dance, when you do something mental and physical for that long - since you are six - and then it is gone, it is like a huge hole in your life. So to do that again, even just to go and lie on the studio floor at 8:00 in the morning and start warming my body up before class, was just like finding my spirit again.
How were the professional dancers about having a Hollywood actress around?
They were great. It was overwhelming. I knew the only way I wanted to do this film was if I danced myself and [did] not have a double, and [was] up to par with the Joffrey. I certainly, while I was in training, had days where I thought, "Am I insane? I am going to walk into this professional company with these dancers who have never had time off and step back into that? I worked my butt off and I was really determined. Luckily I had had the training that I did and had been a professional, so I was able to get it back.
They were so supportive and I think they were so happy to be having this type of film made about dance. You talk to most dancers and they don't think there has ever been a good dance film made. They were happy that we were trying to tell the story in this fashion. They were very supportive and helpful.
Has there been another good dance movie made?
The thing is that this is so different because there has never been a movie made about dance itself. There have been dance movies made where it is a fairy tale story or a typical narrative about the dancer who is in the chorus and wants to be the principal and makes it. "Turning Point" is lovely because there are some great characters, but you are not just dealing with 'what is dance about?' You are dealing with these other story lines to make it interesting, perhaps, to certain audience members.
Was there a part of you that thought you should have stuck with dance or were you glad you didnt?
A bit of both. The pleasure I got out of being back into this was phenomenal. I really feel at home when I am dancing. It is the place I am most comfortable. But the challenge is so strong and my injuries are so apparent that I understood why I needed to step out of it. I had a hard time with my body. Some bodies can take it. It is always going to be a struggle. I was always in pain.
Was it a specific injury?
I have got arthritis in my neck and my hips. I have had surgery on my feet. I have had snapping hip syndrome, tendonitis, shin splints, bursitis... I have had almost every injury imaginable.
And you were injured making this movie?
I broke my rib three days before going to Chicago. I did the training for four and a half months getting ready to go and three days before I went, when I was really nervous to join the company and see where I stood, I broke my rib. We were learning "Funny Valentine" and because we were learning from the tape, we were doing one of the lifts wrong. He lifted me from under my ribs. So then I had to go and do it with a broken rib.
Were you pretty much in constant pain?
I was in constant pain, period, because you can't breathe, you can't sleep. I was dancing 8 hours a day and then not sleeping, and taking pain pills. I went to 12 doctors - every different kind of crackpot doctor in Chicago - and everybody pretty much just said, "Wow, your rib's damaged. That sucks." There is nothing you can do for a rib. All you are supposed to do is just rest.