Isabella Boylston 

American Ballet Theatre principal will bring world premiere back home to Sun Valley

Isabella Boylston

Courtesy ABT

Isabella Boylston

Her voice on the phone had as much ebullience as the dancer has spring in her step.

"Hi. It's Isabella the ballerina," said Isabella Boylston with a laugh.

Known to her friends as Bella, Boylston is one of the most famous ballerinas in the world. A principal with the American Ballet Theatre, she ignited New York City in 2015 in an ABT production of Giselle, and last month she was the star attraction of the ABT production of Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Boylston spoke about her Idaho home with almost palpable delight—especially when she talked about achieving her dream project: bringing a special-commissioned world premiere ballet to Sun Valley.

Does your family call you Bella?

My full name is Hildur Isabella Boylston.

Excuse me? Does anyone call you Hildur?

My parents, my brother and even my husband. I was named after an Icelandic great-grandmother. When I joined ABT, they strongly urged me to start going by my middle name.

I understand you were on skis from the moment you could walk.

My dad was a drummer and basically a ski bum. My parents even met on a ski lift. Skiing was a big part of our life.

It sounds a bit like a Lifetime television movie, but you grew up living in a trailer, right?

It's true. Just south of Ketchum in the Meadows Trailer Park. I just went back there to take a look and it looks a lot nicer than I remember. It's been upgraded.

Talk to me about being a prima ballerina on dance's grandest stage. Do you embrace all of that?

As soon as I knew what the American Ballet Theatre was, I was laser-focused on achieving that goal. But sometimes, I just can't believe I got here. I wanted it for so long and worked so hard to get here.

Being a principal dancer with ABT means you're also in the harsh glare of the New York media, which can give glowing reviews one moment and rather harsh criticism the next.

Exactly. I have colleagues who are more disciplined than me and they don't read any of their reviews. I just think it's hard to avoid. I take it with a grain of salt and, occasionally, you can learn from it.

Let's talk about your vision of bringing some of the finest dancers in the world to the Sun Valley Pavilion.

First, I needed an executive producer. That's Bob Smelick. Then, a chair of the sponsors committee. That's Dan Drackett. They're both from Sun Valley and had previously brought the San Francisco Ballet to Sun Valley.

It's my understanding the performance will have video elements and an original score.

Judd Greenstein is composing and the video designs are from Kate Duhamel.

And the theme is centered around the upcoming total solar eclipse which will pass through Central Idaho at the time of your ballet in mid-August.

All we have to hope for is good weather.

Your list of fellow performers is rather stunning.

Misty Copeland, Lauren Cuthbertson, Marcelo Gomes, Kimin Kim, Maria Kochetkova. If you think of it, they're the Michael Jordans and Roger Federers of the ballet world.

Why don't we call you the Serena Williams of the ballet world?

Cool, I'll take it. I love Serena. She's incredible.

Speaking of superstars, talk to me about your work with Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence.

I can't talk about it too much, but I can say that I worked on the upcoming film Red Sparrow. I'm Jennifer's dance double. It was a crazy awesome experience.

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