Dancer with Milwaukee Ballet, Quinby Kasch shares about dance, life, food, balance, and mindset in this special feature on The Whole Dancer.
Jess Spinner: So I’m joined today by Ms. Quinby Kasch to talk a little bit about her journey in dance and what it means to her to be a Whole Dancer. We are just going to get into some fun questions about lifestyle, balance, and all of that good stuff. Welcome, Quinby thanks for joining me today.
Quinby Kasch: Hi, thanks for talking with me.
Jess: How did you get your start in dance and how did you get to the path where you are now?
Quinby: So I started dancing just like any little girl at 4 years old. All through my childhood I did tap, jazz, hip hop, all of the competitions. When I was 13, I got a full scholarship to Joffrey Ballet in New York City and stopped doing the other types of dance and primarily focused on ballet. From there, I started training at the San Francisco Ballet.
Jess: How old were you when you went to San Francisco?
Quinby: I was 15.
Jess: And now you’re dancing professionally.
Quinby: I am dancing professionally with the Milwaukee Ballet. I was in their second company and then was promoted into the company. This is my third year.
Jess: That’s really exciting.
Quinby: It’s been an amazing journey and experience. The company is fabulous and I really love it.
Jess: That’s so good! What’s you favorite part of dancing there?
Quinby: My favorite part of dancing there is the rep we do. It is so diverse. With my background in contemporary, modern, and hip hop its so rewarding as a professional to do mixed rep in our season.
It’s a family oriented company as well. Because it’s a smaller company, we are all very close. It’s just one happy family, there’s no drama, it’s a very positive work environment.
Jess: That’s really awesome, because that’s not always the case. It’s good to hear that you are supported there. That’s really really good. What inspires you to dance?
Quinby: There is no greater place that I feel myself when I’m dancing. I know that lots of people say that but it’s so true and genuine to me. I don’t know what I would do without ballet, without dance, without the arts in general.
It’s my place to be exactly who I am and not be judged for it. It’s so amazing to be able to do what I love every single day and wake up and be excited to go to work and make a living at it.
Jess: It’s such a gift when you can see it that way. It’s beautiful to hear that that is where are you with it. Did it always feel that way for you? The place where you were most yourself?
Quinby: Oh, absolutely. I’ve known I wanted to be a dancer since I was 8 years old. There was nothing more that I’ve ever wanted to do. I do want to go to school and study nutrition (which is how we have become connected). Yeah I’ve always felt this way about ballet. There are days where it’s really hard, you’re tired, you’re body’s tired, you’re mentally tired. There is never a day where I say I can’t do this anymore. I’ve never gotten sick of it.
Jess: That’s awesome. Have you had any major obstacles that you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
Quinby: Yeah, I think that any professional dancer, or professional athlete, or professional artist, you sacrifice a lot to be where you are. I didn’t have a normal childhood. I didn’t have a normal high school teenage upbringing like my peers did. I went to online homeschooling. It was a lot different. I sacrificed a lot. My family sacrificed a lot.
Jess: Moving for your training at a young age you definitely went a different route than some people do.
Quinby: I would say that was an obstacle. You know it’s hard to move as a kid. You get close to people and then you have to move away. Its tough at a young to be so disciplined at something can be tough.
Jess: When did your interest in nutrition start?
Quinby: My family has always been very healthy. Everything in our home was organic and from a vegetable garden and whatnot. But I didn’t really start focusing in on nutritional as a professional, as an athlete, until a year ago.
Jess: What sparked the interest then?
Quinby: Social media is such an interesting thing. I’ve been completely inspired by several professional dancers and seeing what they do. As I was making the transition from student to a professional, I always thought I lived, breathed as a dancer but until I started narrowing in on what I could do to enhance my career, my health, my stamina.
I just started researching and really putting 120 percent into the best I could be. I just started doing a lot of personal research and experimenting. I’ve been very passionate about cooking all of my own meals. I’ve cut out certain things in my diet to see how it affected me with my energy, and making sure I was getting fuel throughout the day and not getting tired.
Jess: With Social Media it’s nice and sometimes it can have its negatives. But it’s great that it has impacted you in this positive way. Being able to see dance role models who are gong a really positive direction with food and the way they are choosing to fuel themselves and promoting that it is so important to fuel yourself. It’s great that it had a positive impact on you.
Quinby: Oh yeah. And it does on a daily basis. Natasha, who dances with San Francisco Ballet her Instagram @tippytoegirl, we trained together at San Francisco Ballet, and she just completely sparked my inspiration and still does on a daily basis. It’s very cool to see where she is going.
Jess: Yeah, she’s gonna write a little something for The Whole Dancer blog as well.
Quinby: Oh awesome.
Jess: Her positive outlook on food is very noticeable on social media, which is really nice to see. What are some of your favorite foods or what do you consider to be your best energetic dancing fuel?
Quinby: Well to start breakfast is always my biggest meal of the day. I power it with oatmeal and I have a huge protein smoothie in the morning, every morning. Nut butters to go along with that, and the complex carbs that we need. It’s hard throughout the day.
You don’t want to feel too full when you’re dancing. You want to find that balance so you have the energy to get through your eight hour day without bloating or cramping. Nuts, trail mixes are a great go-to snack, quick to eat. Some of those fast sugar carbs like apples. Quinoa is nice, it’s not as dense as rice. I don’t eat red meat, but chicken I always bring with me as well or a little turkey jerky. And nap throughout the day.
Jess: You’re totally aligned there with some of what we talk about with The Dancer’s Best Body Program. I like that idea of the first meal being the biggest. It definitely makes sense for all the reasons that you stated.
Quinby: It gives the huge boost of energy I need in the morning and throughout the day I can snack every five minute break we have per hour. And then I’m able to gorge at dinner when I get home.
Jess: Yea, and refuel. Do you do any specific cross training?
Quinby: I am fortunate to have Pilates machines at the ballet company. So I’ve done a lot of Pilates, which is great. So I’ve trained my body to sculpt lean muscles that we need as dancers. I also do yoga occasionally to work on balance, strength, and flexibility. I also do a lot of weight training; low weight, high reps. Keeping everything toned nice.
Jess: Do you do Pilates on the reformer? That’s what you have at the ballet is the reformer?
Quinby: Yes, there’s reformers. We also have Pilates classes taught by our director’s wife, which is really nice to have.
Jess: Yea, that’s awesome. How do you maintain balance as a dancer and in life?
Quinby: You know being a dancer…there’s a lot of challenges that come with it. I think keeping your mental health strong is extremely important, and knowing your limits, knowing your what you need personally. Don’t look at anyone else, you need to focus on you.
And I think that’s really what I’ve learned to with balance. When I made the change nutritionally and mentally, quite honestly I just, you have to let yourself breathe a little bit as well, you know? Enjoy those moments where you can relax and not think too much on one thing. I also work a part time job too, which is a little bit of an escape for me.
Jess: What’s your part time job?
Quinby: I waitress. So that’s also a little escape too, clear the mind.
Jess: Interact with people in a very different way.
Quinby: Yes, exactly.
Jess: Nice, that sounds very balanced. I think you are very right to say you know its so important to find your personal limits with things and focus on what you need without worrying about what everyone else is doing, which can be a challenge.
Quinby: Right, I mean it’s easier said than done. I think once you really know who you are as a person it becomes a lot easier.
Jess: Definitely. It’s a process to maintain as well. Do you have anyone you consider a mentor?
Quinby: You know just getting inspired with people on social media I would say other dancers are my mentors.
Jess: Any advice you would give to other dancers or aspiring dancers?
Quinby: Do what you want to do. Be who you want to be and work as hard as you possibly can. Don’t do it for anyone else, you have to do it for yourself. Teachers say this all the time: they can only do some much to help you, but it’s you that needs to put in the work. Just enjoy it because people that, we are so absolutely fortunate and blessed that we can do this every single day, what we love. And never take that for granted.
Jess: What does being a whole dancer mean to you?
Quinby: Balance, nutrition, strength, hard work, discipline.
Jess: I really kinda feel like in your responses to the other questions, you really hit the nail on the head on what that means to you. Even to talk about focusing on mental health as well as physical health is really smart, really nice. What is some of your goals in dance?
Quinby: I want to be a dancer for as long as I can possibly be. You know everybody has goals; everybody wants to get to a certain place in their career. And I do have goals like that but at the same time I want to think day by day and just on a day to day basis, strive to the best I can be. And with that I think I’ll make the growth to get to greater places.
Jess: Those bigger goals.
Jess: Awesome. Well that’s all I’ve got. Thank you so much Quinby.
Quinby: Yea, thank you!