March Interview: Clymene Baugher


Meditation, mental health, Buddhism, and ... horror films? Our March person-of-the-month, Clymene Baugher, reveals the importance of journey in mind, body, and soul.


MA: What is your earliest dance memory?

CB: This is how the story goes... I was three and I was at my babysitter's house.  Her daughter was trying on her recital costume and I said "I wanna do whatever will get me one of those." But, I do remember walking into the dance studio for the first time and feeling like I was home, almost like my soul had been on a long journey and had finally reached its destination.


MA: When it came time to choosing colleges, what were your priorities?

CB: I almost went the conservatory route, which probably would have been a good fit for my personality. However, I was hungry and anxious to get to New York. I thought Ailey/Fordham would be everything I wanted and would satisfy my parents... the city, professional training, and strong academics. It was those things. 


MA: What was your most impactful experience as a student in Fordham/Ailey's BFA program?

CB: I think it was apprenticing with Sean Curran Dance Company. It was the first company and choreographer that I felt especially drawn to and drawn to me. It was my first realization that maybe I really would make a professional dance career happen.


MA: You're also a mental health counselor, what spurred your interest in that field?

CB: I had some difficult things happen to me in adolescence and I ran off to college without ever really healing from those issues. I developed panic attacks and eventually sought help from Dr. Linda Hamilton. She was my therapist for quite some time and I vowed to make psychotherapy my second career and to help others as I had been helped.


MA: Do you have any advice for young artists aspiring to juggle multiple career paths?

CB: This is a great question. It's really hard to put your all into multiple fields. I have had to do them in chunks. I couldn't attend graduate school and dance professionally, I had to choose. Upon attaining licensure I was able to shift back to dancing professionally, but I had to work harder because I had lost some time. I am just now in a place where I can tend to them more equally. It is possible to juggle multiple career paths but you may need to choose what gets your primary focus, and this will change as you move through your goals. Which brings me to the importance of truly understanding your short and long-term goals, and accessing your ability to stay the path towards achieving those goals.


MA: Switching gears a little, I hear you're a hardcore horror fan. Why are you drawn to this particular genre?

CB: My film and music knowledge is largely the fault of my brother. My brother is ten years older than me and as a child, if I wanted to "hang out" with him, I had to like what he liked. So as a young girl, I abandoned Barbie for rock music and horror films. I guess for me, it's kind of like how Buddhists meditate on death or even depth-oriented psychoanalysis of the past. You often find and accept the light and the good, after traveling through and knowing the dark, or understanding what really matters in this life when faced with pain and mortality. They're also just really freaking cool.


MA: What's your favorite horror film?

CB: This is an insanely impossible question. But, I'm going to go with Dario Argento's Suspiria.  I was just talking about it and the soundtrack by Goblin. Plus, it takes place at a ballet school! Hahahahahaha.


MA: What was the last book you read? Was it a typical choice of book for you?

CB: I just finished The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh and Guide to the Bodhissatva's Way of Life by Master Shantideva, while reading Lolita by Nabakov and the graphic novel Preacher. This is very typical of my reading habits...


MA: Do you have any pre or post performance rituals?

CB: Ha! Yes.  I always take a toy snake on tour and keep it in the dressing room.  I make all of the dancers in the company kiss it on the lips before a show.  I have also been handed down the honor of leading the company "circle" before each show, which is a secret ;)


MA: Besides dancing, what exercise or classes do you take to help keep your body and mind performance ready?

CB: I take yoga and meditation classes to keep my body and mind performance ready.  I'm currently working on my breathing.


MA: If you could do any choreography (excluding Elisa and Tiffany's) anywhere in the universe, what would you choose?

CB: I would choose Pina Bausch or Ohad Naharin/Batsheva.


MA: You're hosting a dinner party. You can invite 3 people, dead or alive. Who do you invite?

CB: Buddha, Madonna, and Stephen King.


MA: What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

CB: This one is tough.  I've been blessed with the best teachers, mentors, advisors, and family.  But I think it was something my Dad once said... "you better get your act together, Missy."  I think that pretty much sums it all, right up until the day you die.