In 1971, Vivien Cockburn joined Ballet West and performed the lead role in The Firebird in her early 20s. Hear from her experience and how her training later helped in her career as a federal prosecutor:


My first major role was performing the principal role of the Firebird during our residency in Aspen. I was about 21 years old and was the understudy for Vicky Morgan. Vicki got sick on the day of the performance and I was told in the afternoon of the performance that I was performing that night. My memory of my reaction at the news was that that I was pretty hysterical about the whole thing. The Firebird role is a very physically demanding role. So not only was I completely terrified at the prospect of jumping into this role with very little rehearsal, but I was performing the role for the first time at such a high altitude that the crew placed oxygen tanks in the wings for the dancers. My Prince Ivan was John Hiatt, who heroically got me through the pas de deux, and I survived the performance. I was very young as a dancer in this picture and had a great deal to still learn, but I really loved this role.


There are many aspects of my ballet training that carried over to my career as a federal prosecutor. For instance, both careers are very demanding and require a complete focus of time, energy, and dedication. The sheer stamina that is part of a dancer's everyday life is also present with the grueling work that is required from a federal prosecutor. Indeed, the discipline that is so necessary to maintain a career as a professional ballet dancer was crucial for me to also meet the demands as a federal prosecutor. Also, the many years of performing provided me with numerous skills that would transfer to the courtroom both before the court and the juries, as well as working with witnesses and victims.


- Vivien Cockburn