Payton Field’s passion for dance sent her across the country this summer


Senior Payton Field has a passion. Since she was ten years old, Payton’s world has been synonymous with the world of dance. Each year, she learns more and more, drinking in knowledge and skill like a dehydrated person in the desert.

This summer for five weeks, she quenched her thirst by attending a renowned ballet intensive with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company in Seattle, WA.

“It’s a pretty prestigious ballet company, so a lot of people audition and try to get into this specific summer course,” Payton said. “They offer a lot of different classes. They have ballet, pointe class, and variations. They also have other types of dance too. They had flamenco, modern, and ballroom dancing. We got to do swing dancing too, which was fun and different.”

Payton’s passion and specialty has always been ballet, and she openly admits to not being as experienced in some of the other styles. Whether it’s something she excels at or not, it’s a euphoric experience.

“In the last week of the intensive, we did hip-hop, and I am not a hip-hop dancer at all,” Payton said. “So it was kind of embarrassing, but I was just living life and doing my best.”

In class, they not only got to dance until their hearts soared and their legs got sore, but they got to learn under some impressive mentors.

“Mostly, they had their own staff from the school there,” Payton said, “but they also had some dancers from their professional company come to teach us, which was exciting because all of them are amazing.”

One of the most influential people Payton learned under was Marjorie Thompson, who’s been an influential figure in the dance world for a long time.

“She was basically the person everyone went to with questions,” Payton said. “She was really fun to learn under because she danced with Balanchine, who’s like one of the most respected choreographers ever. He created this whole dance style. So she would always reference him and say, “When I was dancing under Balanchine….” Also, Peter Boal, who is the director of the company, would watch class sometimes, and it was terrifying. I’d try to be perfect, but then I’d end up messing up even more.”

While Payton’s main passion will likely always be dance, she’s also found another way to express herself through her writing. As she enters her senior year and questions what her life will look like in a year, one of her options incorporates both of those passions, as well as travel, which Payton is also interested in. 

“There’s this really cool internship at Pointe magazine, which is a famous ballet magazine,” Payton said. “You get to travel around, go to different ballet companies, write, and interview people. I think it would be cool because I’d get to do ballet, writing, and traveling, which are like three of my favorite things. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen yet, but I have some hopes.”

Or, perhaps Payton will decide to go a more conventional route. If you had asked her a year ago, she never would have answered that she was going on a traditional college route. However, recent experiences, like living in the dorms at the intensive in Seattle, have made her reconsider it.

“I’ve always wanted to be a professional dancer with a professional company,” Payton said, “Once I got my job contract with the Grand Rapids Ballet Company, it was a big stepping stone because that was all I ever wanted in my career. Lately, I’ve really been considering college, and I think I’m going to audition for a few different college programs, like Indiana University and Butler. Both of those schools have good ballet programs. After living in the dorms this summer and hearing all my friends talk about college this year, I’m looking forward to what my next year will look like. I obviously don’t want to take ballet out of my life completely because I’ve literally been doing it since I was ten, but I am excited to see what else I can do.”