“This was always my thing,” she laughs.
Enrolled in classes by her mother as early as age 3, Yohe always knew what she would be doing; it was only how that changed.
“I was actually more into jazz and hip-hop until I was in high school,” Yohe says. “It was a late transition into ballet.”
Yohe performed in competitive dance festivals across the country, training in more contemporary styles that she couldn’t imagine doing now.
“I still remember some of my old moves,” she says. “But I might break my neck if I tried.”
While Yohe didn’t pivot towards ballet for some time, it was always a part of her upbringing. She first performed the Nutcracker at age 8 and knew soon after that ballet was something to pursue; however, the dance studio she was in and touring with didn’t focus primarily on ballet.
“I had a lot of friends [at the studio] and I didn’t want to move,” Yohe says. “But we did have a teacher there who left there and opened up her own school that was strictly ballet.”
At the time, Yohe was 14, already with years of experience behind her. She decided to make the switch to the new school and hasn’t looked back since.
“It was hard,” Yohe admits. “But I always wanted to do ballet.”
Yohe would continue to train for some time before joining Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Graduate Program in 2012. She enrolled in several summer intensive programs, from Cincinnati to San Francisco Ballet, along with PBT’s own program for two summers. She’s gone on to perform in countless ballets including Giselle, Serenade, and In the Upper Room.
But while she has trained and danced for years, Yohe has discovered that ballet is a never-ending journey. It is a rigorous form which demands more on a daily basis.
“It’s still hard,” Yohe says happily. “Every day you have to figure out what makes a step work, how to make a turn happen or finish cleanly. It’s a little bit of a game because you have to refigure your body; you feel different every day.”
Despite the technical demands, it is the artistic side of ballet that has kept Yohe engaged.
“You can give it your own individual touch, your own flare. It’s a fine balance of that individuality combined with discipline and form.”
Yohe’s own spark, she says, is dependent on the roles she gets to play. As each ballet is different, every character deserves their own style; and for the PBT, in a year of many performances, Yohe has had the opportunity to immerse herself in many different parts.
“I try to become these characters, but there’s also just the enjoyment of ballet. It’s so much better to watch someone who is obviously having a good time [performing] and loves the art form.”
For Diana Yohe, who began dancing not long after learning to walk, her energy hasn’t waned. That true love of the art form is obviously—and abundantly—still there.
“I get a lot of corrections about not smiling on stage,” she laughs. “It can be a serious role or even an angry role, and I’ll still smile.