Consider about all the teaching, self-discipline and inventive perseverance it requires to be a ballet dancer, a career centered on hours in the studio, painstaking actual physical work and inventive engagement. It is a formidable obstacle, correct up there with — oh, let us say rocket science.
Now picture executing equally, one particular by working day and the other on nights and weekends.
Which is the astonishing dual keep track of that Kelley Hashemi has carved out for herself. Hashemi’s day task is as an aeronautical engineer at NASA’s Ames Study Heart in Mountain Perspective, in which she potential customers a analysis workforce performing to combine automation into the nationwide airspace.
But the moment the 5 o’clock whistle blows (figuratively speaking), Hashemi heads to San Mateo, in which she’s a principal dancer with the Peninsula Ballet Theatre. This season, she’s gearing up to seem as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the company’s forthcoming performances of “Nutcracker,” which premieres Saturday, Dec. 18.
To hear her convey to it, she’s observed a best equilibrium between these two poles of her life, just one that has authorized her to go after two disparate interests with equal perseverance and push.
“The NASA job pays my expenses, and it is what I have to prioritize for the duration of the working day,” Hashemi explained to The Chronicle for the duration of a modern job interview in excess of espresso close to her dwelling in the Castro community of San Francisco. “So by that metric, I’m an engineer.
“But the matter that brings me the most pleasure, the point I obvious the relaxation of my timetable for, the issue my spouse has to set up with? That’s the dancing.”
It’s not very clear that either facet of her job informs the other in any concrete strategies — it isn’t as although mastering the rules of interplanetary movement is going to enable your jetés. But Hashemi is confident that her experience executing onstage in entrance of an audience has provided her the self-assurance she desires to spearhead teamwork at the lab. And there’s a serene, steely intelligence in her demeanor that should certainly translate on to the stage.
“She’s a single of the most unbelievable men and women I have at any time labored with,” reported Gregory Amato, the inventive director of PBT. “She can go from the Rat Queen to the Sugar Plum Fairy in the exact same demonstrate, and each character is particularly specific.
“And she has no dread at all. Once she hits the stage, anything just goes up a few or four notches.”
For many many years, Hashemi tried to continue to keep the two streams of her everyday living from crossing.
“People at work didn’t know I danced, and when I was at the studio I experimented with to limit what I did for my engineering job. I believe I was concerned a person would get me a lot less very seriously as a dancer, and at perform I was worried they would get it absent from me — ‘you can’t acquire that time off, you have got to be here,’ ” she explained. “But now that I have been in the setup I have for a pair of years, it is not an situation. I talk about it considerably extra overtly.”
It can help, she mentioned, that the two NASA and PBT give her the overall flexibility she needs to fulfill commitments — comprehension, for case in point, that weekday rehearsals are not ordinarily possible for her, and conversely that she demands to take a whole two-week get the job done split in progress of a demonstrate. At times she overhears the mom and dad of youthful dancers position to her as an instance of the risk of obtaining it all, and thinks guiltily about the reality that her situation is a fluke.
“I do not feel most businesses would do this, and I credit rating Greg for placing up with my program for as very long as he has,” she mentioned. “It’s a one of a kind circumstance, and I understand that.”
Amato does not audio as though he considers it a major concession. “We’re blessed to have her,” he said, “and so is NASA.”
Hashemi grew up 1st in Houston and then Minimal Rock, Ark. Her mother and father, a lawyer and a center manager for an ice product company, weren’t culturally attuned, she explained, but “they place me in dance for the reason that I was an lively baby. And I by no means stopped.”
She had also established her head as early as center school on a occupation as an aeronautical engineer, so eventually her ambition and perfectionism nudged her in that course.
“I want to succeed and be the very best at regardless of what I do,” she reported. “When I acquired to the stop of significant college, I had an plan of the sort of providers I’d be equipped to dance for, and I experienced college acceptances. The faculties have been much better than the dance businesses that were in just my reach, so I went with the option that seemed like it would place me on the most enjoyable trajectory.”
Dance took a back again seat while she gained an undergraduate diploma at MIT, then master’s and doctoral levels at the College of Texas. But quickly right after passing her qualifying tests, she understood she missed currently being in the studio too a great deal and started looking for ways to integrate equally pursuits.
After moving to San Francisco in 2016 with her partner — a fellow engineer she achieved throughout a NASA internship — Hashemi started investigating the Bay Spot dance earth and identified a great deal of options to keep her artistry alive. She took lessons with Traces Ballet and ODC right before signing on at PBT, which she describes as a warm and welcoming group.
“The culture is incredibly supportive, not cutthroat or nuts competitive. Absolutely we’re all there to do our finest and carry out as a lot as doable, but we also expend time collectively outside the house of the studio,” she claimed. “Also, issues of injuries and psychological health are highly regarded. The older I get, the far more that results in being critical.”
At 34, Hashemi hopes to hold dancing for at least one more 5 many years. It’s too early to imagine about retirement, but the pandemic shutdown — in the course of which she experienced elective hip medical procedures to proper ongoing damage — has manufactured every person she is familiar with believe afresh about longevity and the condition of their professions. She hopes to deal with much more of the big story ballets, like the “Giselle” she danced just ahead of COVID hit.
In the meantime, Hashemi is stored occupied by a distinct set of challenges: resolving elaborate logistical complications, figuring out how to adapt the present aeronautical infrastructure to technical improvements these kinds of as drones and automated air visitors command.
It seems excellent for somebody constitutionally driven to excel.
“I work my working day occupation with NASA, and then I’m at the studio until the evening a few of evenings a week and typically on Saturday. Sometimes a person schedule has to give to accommodate the other, but not far too typically,” she mentioned. “Hopefully, I have attained a harmony.”
“Nutcracker”: Peninsula Ballet Theatre. 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18. 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19. $35-$65. Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood Town. 650-342-3262. www.peninsulaballet.org