High Profile: Jay Goodlett, Song and Dance Man

211
 Jay Goodlett “retired” to The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati to build and run Learning The Craft.
Jay Goodlett “retired” to The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati to build and run Learning The Craft.

Photograph by Annette Navarro

After a stint at NYC’s School of American Ballet and a 17-year career with the Cincinnati Ballet (including six as senior soloist), Jay Goodlett “retired” to The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati to build and run Learning The Craft, the theatre’s after-school program. The danseur discusses stage jitters and his fear of dropping coworkers.

“I’m a total Cincinnati arts native son. Even before I went to the School For Creative and Performing Arts, I was a page in The Nutcracker as a 7-year-old. And I married a ballerina, Jennifer Leinberger Goodlett. We met at Cincinnati Ballet.

I remember being so scared on my first day on the job. I walk in and there’s Deirdre Carberry—she danced with Mikhail Baryshnikov; we all knew who she was. The artistic director, Nigel Burgoine, said “OK, you’re going to do a lift, and then run that way with her!” And I was thinking, I’m going to drop this woman! But that’s the ballet world. The faith you have to have in the people who are on stage with you—it’s a little bit different than an office.

I retired from the ballet in 2008 and spent a year looking around. Part of me was thinking, I need to get out of the arts. Am I doing something that changes anything? For a performer, the arts can be a really self-serving thing. And it’s long hours. Literally, I was about to take an insurance job. I picked up the phone and it rang in my hands, and it was the Children’s Theatre.

As a fifth-grader, I saw a ballet set to contemporary music and thought to myself, That’s ballet? That’s not the tutu ballet that I think of. Children’s Theatre does the same thing. We take the show to them.

I get butterflies even now. I performed in Chicago at The Carnegie in Covington a few years ago. I was scared to death, because that’s performing. That visceral reaction—you’ll always have that.”

Originally published in the April 2015 issue.

Photograph by Annette Navarro.

Facebook Comments