Documenting Traci Gilchrest
Putting Traci Gilchrest into words isn’t easy. It doesn’t seem to be enough to say she is friendly and a great dancer. At times she is extremely confident, but she can also be surprisingly shy. Editing her interviews will take the least amount of finessing because when she says something she is precise and succinct.
I met Traci when I first went down to Charlotte to meet with Logan McSwain (Director of Marketing and Communications at NCDT) and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux about the possibility of making this documentary. After the meeting, Logan gave me a tour of the studios and let me sit in on a rehearsal with Alessandra. While still in the lobby Traci rushed in, pausing for a handshake and to flash her brilliant smile, before continuing on ahead of us. I was probably at the studios for about 20 more minutes, but saw Traci five or six more times. She was scurrying around, pausing only slightly to check in with someone, see if a door was locked, or check the music for a rehearsal.
During the year that I filmed the three dancers, Traci retired as a principle dancer with the company. When Logan and I spoke about the dancers at North Carolina Dance Theatre, she described Traci as the ultimate ballerina; she has danced lead roles from Giselle to Balanchine to Juliet. I immediately wanted her to be in the documentary, but was a little worried about working with the top dancer at the company. Upon meeting her any apprehension evaporated because Traci is so sweet and humble that you forget about her accomplishments when you are with her; unless, of course, you are watching her dance and that is the moment you become awestruck.