Five Minutes With… Madison Keesler (

The following was taken from San Francisco Ballet's Blog


Welcome to our new “Five Minutes With…” interview series — let us know who else you’d love to see us interview in the comments! 

SF Ballet Corps de Ballet dancer Madison Keesler was born in Carlsbad, California, and trained at Zamuel Ballet School, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet School. She performed with the Hamburg Ballet for one year prior to joining the Company in 2009.  We stole five minutes of her time to hear what makes her tick…


Madison photographed in the SF Ballet studio

Madison photographed in the SF Ballet studio

What is your favorite performance you’ve ever seen onstage?

“There are many, but one of the performances that will always be ingrained in my mind is when I saw Hamburg Ballet perform Othello for the first time. I had never felt so many true, deep emotions while watching a performance as I did that night.”


Your favorite role to dance?

“While I have not performed it, and the learning process only lasted a few days, I would be lying if I said anything other than Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. I also got the opportunity to perform Swanilda in a full length production of Coppelia in Japan last summer, which was an incredible opportunity.”


SF Ballet in Tomasson's 'Romeo & Juliet'

SF Ballet in Tomasson's 'Romeo & Juliet'

The one thing you wished more people knew about dancing?

“I wish more people knew the true transformative power this art form can have – for both dancer and audience – when used correctly.”


Your guilty pleasure?

“Romantic Latin love songs.”


Your dream job, if you weren’t a dancer?

“A successful film actress and/or professional singer.”


Your favorite place in San Francisco?

“Watching the sunset at Sutro Heights overlooking the Sutro BathsInspiration Point in the Presidio, and the Palace of Fine Arts are some of my favorite places in SF.”


The Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts

Your favorite place in the world?

“I still have a lot more exploring to do before I can answer that one. I’ll get back to you in a few more years.”


The one song you can’t stop listening to right now?

“”Nostotros” by Omara Portuando”


Cuban singer and dancer Omara Portuondo

Cuban singer and dancer Omara Portuondo

Your favorite movie?

“Gone With The Wind.”


Your favorite book?

“All of Thich Nhat Hanh‘s books.”


Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh pictured with Martin Luther King

Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh pictured with Martin Luther King

Your idea of a perfect day off?

“The day would start with sleeping in as much as possible. I’d wake up and have a slow morning at home filled with coffee, news, and whatever spiritual book I’m reading at the time, followed with meditation in the sunshine. Then, the rest of the day would be spent with the wonderful people in my life. Starting with a big brunch, followed by some time in Dolores Park, a museum, and a good movie in the theaters. After that, I would finish the evening off with a delicious home cooked meal at Myles Thatcher’s place where we pull out our guitars after dinner and sing and try to learn new songs. Yup, that sounds like a pretty good day off to me!”


Dolores Park

Dolores Park

And finally… when did you realize you were serious about ballet?

“When my parents got divorced. I was ten years old when my family moved to Miami. I had been taking ballet for four years in Colorado by that point and had already built a strong connection to dancing. At that time Miami City Ballet did not have a program for children my age – I knew I couldn’t stop just because of that though. As my parents became more and more certain that they should not be living together anymore, it left my mother and I free to move anywhere. I am an only child with incredibly loving and supportive parents. My eyes fill with tears of gratitude when I think about everything that my mother has selflessly done and continues to do in order to make sure I have the best life possible. My mother made it very clear that if I wanted to continue dancing she was willing to make whatever move was necessary so that I could have the best training. She allowed it to be completely my decision if I wanted to continue pursing this as a profession, and she was going to be proud of my hard work no matter what I chose to do. I believe that giving a child this kind of respect will bring out the maturity and true intuitions that are already deeply hardwired within them. It was in these moments when I truly realized that this is what I was meant to do.”