I went to Purchase College for one year straight out of high school. That is where I met Samantha. We were besties and inseparable on campus. We were a small group of friends actually… It was fellow dancers, Sarah Beard, Jessica Batten, Samantha and I. We were famous for always being together. Everyone knew it. We even had a name for our group called “The Ballet Mafia”… I don’t remember why this name was chosen… but it stuck. We both stayed at Purchase College for only one year. I moved to The Juilliard School and she joined the Aspen Sante Fe Ballet. Our friendship has lasted over 12 years. Sam has a good heart and a great sense of humor. Most impressively, she could always laugh at herself. I like that about her. Over the years, she has turned into an amazing artist! I have had the pleasure of seeing her perform and she is great… She has grown into a star.

Growing up in Buffalo, Samantha trained at the American Academy of Ballet, The Chautauqua Institute, NYSSA, and the School of American Ballet. She began her college education at SUNY Purchase, but completed her BA in the Arts while being a full-time dancer from SUNY Empire State College in 2008. Samantha Klanac Campanile enjoys the honor of being the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s most longstanding member, now in her fourteenth season with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. With ASFB Samantha has originated roles in over 18 creations by Jorma Elo, Nicolo Fonte, Cayetano Soto, Helen Pickett, Trey McIntyre, Jacapo Godani, Dwight Rhoden and Alejandro Cerudo. Her 44 work repertoire is rounded out with works by Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, Itzik Galili, Norbert de la Cruz, Septime Weber, Moses Pendleton, David Parsons, Laura Dean, Thierry Malandain, Paul Taylor, Dominique Dumais, Vincente Nebrada and Jimmy Hamonet de los Heros.

Did I mention that she is also a super model? She is beautiful! Samantha has appeared in several national print and commercial campaigns as a fitness and commercial model. As a guest teacher she works with the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and other students abroad. She tells me that she hopes to have more teaching opportunities in the future.

My friends are some of my biggest sources of inspiration. Thank you Samantha for believing in me and this series.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?

When I was a kid I certainly loved to dance and perform, I’d make my older brother “introduce me” for an impromptu show in the living room quite a bit. I really always have loved to be on stage and performing, and I LOVED my tap classes. I never really imagined myself as a “ballerina”, or as a professional dancer, but at the same time I also never imagined doing anything else. I guess subconsciously I believed I would find my way with where dance would “allow me in”.

 Your Favorite Things

My Husband Nick, and our relationship-


My Family-


Leisurely mornings when I get to drink multiple Nespressos-

Tulum MX-

My “work wife” Ebs:-).

Kisses and hugs from my beautiful nephews-


Attempting to Meditate-

Laughing so hard you cry-

Crying and then laughing because of it-

 Favorite Things to eat?

In normal life…I love oysters and crab legs. I also love home cooking from my Momma of course, as well as my husband’s homemade Manicotti. But, to be at the top of my game in ‘dance life’ I am a stickler for eggs in the morning…avocados and protein shakes mid-day…and a nutritious dinner at night for tomorrow’s energy :-).

 Favorite Books?

I’m the type of person who has high hopes of doing a lot of reading, but in reality, it takes me awhile. It is hard for me to sit still and read, so I really only get to it when I am in my epsom bath! I do love a good mystery novel and I love the author Paulo Coelho, I read The Alchemist over and over.

Favorite Movies?

I wish I was “cooler” than my answer, but I have to say Dumb & Dumber is a classic for me, it will always get a laugh and laughter is a cure for so much. I also love the French film “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not”, with Audrey Tautou… reminds us in an ironic/clever way that there are many different perspectives to the same actions.

Favorite Dance Piece or Show/Musical or both?

I can spend hours watching old videos of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Eleanor Powell…

I have a soft spot for some of our own rep too. Jorma Elo’s First Flash, created on NDT, is very special to me. The movement is so expressive and is a perfect love affair with the music. It is a marvel to watch, and a gift to perform. Nicole Fonte’s work holds a special place in my heart, the movement is so alive and the abandonment he can produce is so fulfilling to watch. I also love Cayetano Soto’s work, he creates a beauty in the the preciseness of a contorted body, for me it is truly aesthetically and emotionally pleasing.

 I like dancers who…

Remember that what we do is a privilege. It is too short of a career to take any moment of it for granted. I really appreciate a dancer who can ‘take’ constructive notes and not offer excuses. Of course a dancer who is hard working with a maturity and awareness in the work. I think it is always great to be ‘open’ and ‘fresh’ with choreographers…respectful and supportive to your colleagues and partners. Above all…don’t we all love that special innate ability to really perform and leave a part of themselves with the audience?

 I am afraid of…


 A dance piece should…

Evoke a release of emotion. Happiness, pain, laughter, or even disdain. A piece should make you ‘feel’.

 Something you like to do other your current job?

We are based in one of the most beautiful towns on earth. I do love to get outside for a hike, or in the summer icing my ankles in the river with my journal in hand. I do enjoy writing and I’d like to do more of it. I also cherish any time spent with my husband, who is not a dancer, so schedule wise sometimes our quality time can be limited.

 One of the happiest moments in your life?

Dance related happiness, so many. From getting offered my first contract, to finishing an incredibly tough run of shows at the Joyce. There is so much beauty and happiness in this world we get to be a part of. Upon reflection, even in the darkest toughest times in the studio, or a rough show, I know they are a true blessing, and it has all been a part of the person I am today.

In my personal life, my happiest moments are when I am around the people I love. My husband, parents, brothers, friends (who have become family)…any moments with these relationships are what it is really all about for me.

 One of your most unusual or coolest experiences?

I would say my relationship with Nick. It is unusual because it isn’t very common or the “norm” or looked upon in the best of regards to have a “long distance” marriage. Some may say we are crazy, but for us, we have found our way with it. We are unusual for now, but we have both been able to devote our younger years to our personal career goals, while still sharing the ups and downs with each other. Our choices have made us not able to have dinner together every night, yet we are creating amazing memories in “tour cities” and “business trip” cities all over the world. Of course like any relationship it can be challenging, but I believe so strongly in our foundation, I feel this time will only enhance our future together.

 One of the most embarrassing moments in your professional career?

Oh all the classics! Falling pretty hard onstage within the first 64 counts of a ballet, I was a little too excited to be ‘back’ in a role after ankle sugery :-). I’ve also had the classic leotard wardrobe malfunction in rehearsal, not even knowing it was happening until I had to be told to ‘fix it”! I’ve blanked out on stage in a pas-de deux and my partner creepily whispered, “keep going…”. In a piece we used to do in all black light, I once confidently moved into the next phrase on my own… in an otherwise very unison section. My director was standing 5 feet away in the wing. Ok, this is turning into just all my dumb mistakes, haha!

 Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?

I would say Tom and Jean Philippe, the directors of ASFB have become a huge influence in my career and life. I have been blessed to be a part of this company for over 13 years, and in that amount of time it is inevitable to acknowledge that a connection has been made. The way Tom and JP run ASFB is very intelligent and nurturing to an artist. I respect their artistic vision as well as their business sense. I admire their passion to make our company truly about the dancers and the repertoire, and their integrity to stand behind their beliefs and product. In many ways I feel as I have grown up along side ASFB, and I have learned so much from ‘the boys’.

Because of Tom & JP’s devotion to our art form, ASFB really attracts dancers who share the same loyalty and work ethic. I have been allowed to feel a sense of ownership in this company and I am so thankful for the environment they have created for us.

Once upon a time I was ‘the baby’ of this company to now being a senior member, the dancers of ASFB past and present have all influenced me and provided a source of motivation. Any dancer who has been a part of ASFB knows it is a special group and a special place. If you are open, a very beautiful experience can develop for you.

 One of the hardest things about your job?

As I’ve gotten older the “hardest things” have certainly shifted. We perform and tour so much, I have discovered that it has become harder for me to mentally prepare for a show, it can be exhausting for me to talk my confidence up in my head sometimes pre curtain. In my younger years I didn’t think about that so much.

Another struggle I deal with now is the idea that ‘it’ doesn’t last forever. In my entire adult life, a constant has been taking company class, rehearsing all day, doing shows and going on tour. That has become the norm. Even though the body hurts and it takes longer to warm up (mentally and physically), the dancer’s way of life will be missed someday, and it is hard to think of letting go of something so wonderful. Those magic moments on stage connecting with an audience, or sharing a special glance with a colleague, they mean more. It’s a balance to have the capacity to take it all into the memory bank, be in the moment, and still execute a step.

Something you would change in the DANCE world?

I wish there were more women in roles of leadership, direction and power. For a female dominated workforce, few women actually transition into leadership roles.

Something you would change in the REAL world?

I think it is truly important for people to find happiness within themselves, so I wish in the “real world” people made that a priority. Of course it isn’t realistic for life to be perfect, but I do believe mental and physical health should be of huge importance for adults and children…from that, relationships get better, life is better, and you can conquer even the most difficult times.

 Do you have any goals you still wish to achieve?

I’ve been lucky that I feel very fulfilled in my dance career; at this point I look at everything in the future as being an added bonus. I’ve lately been thinking a lot about accepting change, being fearless, and being in the moment, in life and in dance. I have a goal to successfully transition eventually in the next phase of my life. I also have a goal with Nick to start a family of our own someday, and be the best parent and wife I am capable of.

  A piece of advice for aspiring artists?

I suggest to always remembering that dance is a gift. Focus on the moment, not tomorrow, work hard now and take it all in. Don’t let ego get involved, and remember that a dancer is a vessel to create and experience art. When I was newer in the company I received the advice “not to look at my role in dance selfishly, think of it in the bigger picture, you are one person in a company that is creating and making art”. If you find a way to remember that, your perspective on any frustrating issue will change.

During one of many dance related conversations when I was 18, trying to figure out my place and if I even had a place in the dance world, something else that has always stuck with me. A wise man, Armando Braswell said to me, “Everyone can dance, it doesn’t matter how good or bad you think you are, if you want to you can do it, you just have to find the right place for you”. I think there is some truth to that, and I think it is still good advice.


Samantha-Klanac_Interview En Lair

Photo by: Rosalie O’Connor

Samantha-Klanac_Interview En Lair

Photo by: Rosalie O’Connor

Samantha-Klanac_Interview En Lair

Photo by: Peter Ogilvie

Samantha-Klanac_Interview En Lair

Photo by: Rosalie O’Connor

Samantha-Klanac_Interview En Lair

Photo by: Peter Ogilvie

Samantha-Klanac_Interview En Lair

Photo by: Rosalie O’Connor

Samantha-Klanac_Interview En Lair

Photo by: Rosalie O’Connor

Samantha-Klanac_Interview En Lair

Photo by: Rosalie O’Connor

Main photo by: Jana Cruder