Serious balletomanes might have spotted Katherine Williams' promise years ago when she first stepped on stage as a tiny ballerina in Columbia. And they surely made note of it when the teen soloist performed the lead part of The Sugar Plum Fairy in the Ballet Royale production of "The Nutcracker," directed by Donna Pidel.
Whatever that unique quality is that makes one performer stand out above the others, "Katie," as she likes to be called, has it, and has made audiences sit back and pay attention throughout her local dance career.
The 22-year-old dancer was recently featured as one of "25 To Watch" in Dance Magazine. Watching Katie in a recent performance, it was easy to see why the judges chose her. Tall, lithe and extremely poised, she is deliberate in every move she makes.
One can't help but wonder how long a dancer can pose on pointe with one leg held high above her head as she prepares to dance a difficult variation. Her arms gracefully lifted above her head, she takes off in a grand jete and seemingly sits in the air before landing softly and quietly. Her gift is her gracious presence — she never seems to sweat or lose her patience.
Those who want a quick refresher on Katie's dance quotient and her classical Russian training can see her when the American Ballet Theatre returns to the Kennedy Center Opera House Jan. 31-Feb. 5. For the Washington engagement, she will dance in both the contemporary program and the Russian masterpiece "La Bayadere."
"I think both programs are worth seeing because they showcase such different aspects of the talent that ABT has to offer," said Williams, a graduate of Marriotts Ridge High School, in an email.
"Katie has a special quality about her," said Pidel during a break from her ballet class at her Red Branch Road studio. "That particular quality is very rare. It goes way beyond technique. It doesn't hurt that she is so nice either."
Baltimore Ballet director Cem Catbas first saw Williams dance at a Youth American Grand Prix competition when she was around 13 years old and was impressed with her talent. "Not only does Katie possess angelic looks, impeccable technique, and a beautiful lyrical quality to her dancing, she is also a lovely, collegial person and good friend."
Williams' family lives in Woodstock, where she grew up after moving there from Hawaii. Her older sister, Abby, also danced at Ballet Royale, but chose a different career path.
"Donna (Pidel) and Slava Mesropov were my real foundation teachers," said Williams with more than a hint of pride for her mentors. "I'm very excited to be coming home to perform again, and maybe even having some good Maryland crab cakes."
For information on the American Ballet Theatre's performances at the Kennedy Center, go to http://www.abt.org or http://www.kennedy-center.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun