20 Questions With McKhayla Pettingill
26 janvier 2023

McKhayla Pettingill 1

McKhayla Pettingill. Photo par Karolina Kuras.

Born in Chandler, Arizona and formerly with Houston Ballet, McKhayla Pettingill joined The National Ballet of Canada in the 2022/23 season as a member of the Corps de Ballet. Learn more about her dance career, hobbies and aspirations in our “20 Questions” series!

What would you have done as a career if you hadn’t pursued ballet?

I can see myself doing something within the field of psychology one day, but as a child I always wanted to work for National Geographic or NASA.

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?

I once tripped down a set of stairs that were part of the scenery at the back of the stage while the principal couple was doing a dramatic and quiet pas de deux at the front. There were other people on the stairs with me and it accidentally caused a mini domino effect of falling dancers…oops.

What is your work philosophy?

One: Find more things to be grateful for than things to complain about.
Two: Set smaller, easier to attain goals that you can accomplish on your way to your bigger goals.
These things will help you find fulfillment in each day.

What’s your definition of a successful ballet dancer?

Someone who continuously tries to grow in their craft and keeps their personal joy and love of performing for others, despite the struggles that come with the work over time.

What’s the best thing about being a dancer?

Performing and creating for a live audience. Trying to connect or touch something in the souls of strangers through movement and emotion while being completely in the moment is an incredible and unique experience in this job.

What’s the worst?

Because the ballet world is so intense and passionate, it’s very easy to get stuck inside this bubble and forget about other important and beautiful things that are worth devoting mental and physical energy to in life.

What music are you listening to right now?

I mainly like to listen to ‘70s and ‘80s music. I’ve been in the mood for lots of Bob Dylan recently!

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to go hiking or camping! I also love cooking, chatting with my family or reading.

What are three things most people don’t know about you?

  • Some people don’t know that I’m half Filipino and half American. My mom’s side is from the Philippines and my dad’s is from the US.
  • I love plants and ran a small plant business for a little while with my mom and sister!
  • I am not easily spooked because I worked in a haunted house that my dad ran for years when I was young.

What cheers you up on an off day?

Coming home to my goofy Siberian husky, Nylah, and FaceTiming my boyfriend, Chandler Hulsey, who is a Soloist at Houston Ballet.

What is your favourite onstage memory?

I don’t know if I have a favourite but one fun memory was being part of the cast for Jerome Robbins’ The Concert. It was just such a hilarious and joyful experience to dance alongside my friends at Houston Ballet.

McKhayla Pettingill 2

McKhayla Pettingill. Photo par Karolina Kuras.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken, either personally or in your career?

During COVID times, I took risks that led to me to experiment with other passions. I did not work professionally as a dancer for 8 months and, in that time, I completed a 200-hr yoga teacher training course. I also looked into other paths, but ultimately I chose ballet again.

Could you name someone who has mentored or inspired you?

Susan Sharkey, former Soloist with American Ballet Theatre and one of my dearest instructors from my hometown in Arizona – for being one of the first to believe in me. Also, my mother, who was my first ballet teacher and has never stopped encouraging me to work hard, stay humble and strive for more in all that’s good.

Where would you like to travel but haven’t yet?

Way too many places! One that comes to mind is New Zealand. The nature is incredible, plus I want to see Hobbiton (haha sorry, I’m a nerd).

What are you reading right now?

I recently read Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on The Shore and it was mind blowing. I’m also trying to read the Bible all the way through for the first time in my faith!

What’s the top item on your bucket list?

Honestly, just to survive my first Canadian winter! I’m so used to the Arizona and Texas heat.

Do you have any performance rituals or superstitions?

I have to knock on wood (specifically, three times) if I think I might have jinxed something.

Adage or Allegro?


What is your perfect meal?

A Filipino feast for sure.

Have you fallen in love with any of your costumes?

The tutu I wore for the role of Generosity Fairy in Houston Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty.

Learn more about McKhayla

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