Lauren Guynes on Follies of 1915

The Q&A with Lauren Guynes
Dancer, Follies of 1915

Lauren Guynes returns to her third season with the Marigny Opera Ballet as Violet in Follies of 1915.

She holds a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she choreographed and performed with the Repertory Dance Company. Guynes continues to perform as a guest artist with Hub Dance Collective in Hattiesburg, MS. She has performed HDC’s works at RADFest in Kalamazoo, MI, Dixon Place and DUMBO Dance Festival in New York, and the Chicago Harvest Dance Festival.

In this retelling of “Twelfth Night” by Dave Hurlbert and Ricky Graham, you play a twin separated in a shipwreck who ends up instigating the whole crazy comedy of errors that is Follies of 1915. What’s Violet like? What do you see in her that’s relatable to your own life?

Violet is such a fun character — she’s ambitious, strong, intelligent, playful and even a little bit mischievous. She has grown up with her twin brother, Vincent, so I feel like she has no problem hanging with the boys.

What I love is that I am able to draw inspiration from my own relationship with my older brother. We grew up challenging, teasing, supporting and loving each other. I feel like Violet and Vincent’s relationship is similar because while they are so playful with each other, they also really care for one another. And, they have undeniable bond as twins, even after being separated at sea.

I love that Violet refuses to take no for an answer when she is rejected for a job that she auditions for as a woman. She is not defeated. Instead, she decides to put on a tux and disguise herself as Vincent to land the same job she was denied as a woman. I approach it as ‘OK boys, I see your game and I’m here to play and win.’

You have an intensely physical role in Follies that requires you to transition from girl to boy to girl. What’s it like to lift a dancer much taller than you?

Lifting Lauren Ashlee Messina is not difficult at all. Many lifts often consist of weight-sharing and/or counter-balancing, so gender and size really aren’t the most important components. We’re able to negotiate verbally and physically (a trial and error of sorts) with each other to create and present successful partnering.

The company dances together about twenty hours each week, so we are all very in tune with one another. We learn, share, and grow as artists together every day.

What role does dance play in your life? What does being a member of Marigny Opera Ballet mean to you?

Dance is a major part of who I am. It’s not an easy field, but it is so rewarding to put in the hours of practice and have the opportunity to share what I love so much with an audience. I’ve been performing, choreographing and teaching for the past ten years, and I hope to continue for many, many more.

Marigny Opera Ballet is really something special to me. It’s rare to have the ability to practice and perform as often as we do, especially in our region. I feel extremely lucky and grateful to be a part of this company where I get to do what I love every day with truly incredible artists.

We all come from different backgrounds in dance, so we each have unique qualities that blend together to create something beautiful.