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Actually I strongly feel that this shouldn’t be the goal… I have been in many companies where some dancers even STOP dancing because they think that the only company to dance in is the one that they have been brought up watching. This happens a lot at Paris Opera, Bolshoi etc. If they are not chosen to be in the company after training at the affiliated school they think there is no where else to dance.
Whats most important is WHAT you are dancing and HOW you are dancing the rep. It’s a change in perspective. I don’t think that wanting to be in a certain company is a bad thing; of course we should have goals like that. But what I have seen is that some of the greatest opportunities and repertoire are in other companies that sometimes are not dancers’ ‘first choice’. And then people absolutely blossom because there is the room there for opportunity and growth. The playing field isn’t so intense and tightly packed!
I have actually learned from my mistakes and ‘misguidances.’ When I was a student the dancers that I looked up to were the men from ABT. At that point there was a very strong group of male dancers (Ethan, Angel, Jose, Vladimir) so I wanted to dance where they were… ABT. But I wanted to be them in the sense of being a ‘star.’ And I was blindingly ambitious. This clouded my progression in the every day work of my time in studio. I was so ‘big picture’ based that I forgot that the baby steps were most important. I needed to grow in many aspects of myself as a dancer. I needed to gain strength, learn how to partner etc., and not worry about being a principal or ‘getting roles.’ I think the most important thing I learned was to take it step by step. You are not a fully blossomed dancer over night. I had to learn to relax a little and focus on the task at hand. Not worry about being a principal. But question my work and conquer the task for that day.
I would ask the dancers to REALISTICALLY assess what their weaknesses are and hone in on those. Work on what you are not good at, and keep it realistic. If you stay humble and keep your head to the ground and work day in day out on what doesn’t come easy to you, progression comes quicker.
One of my main mottos and something that I believe wholeheartedly in is that ‘It’s never good enough’. This I take with me to rehearsals and performances. There is always room for better. I rarely look at my work and think it was good. I look at it and hopefully think it was improved upon. Ego is not the answer. It only slows you down becoming a better artist.
Work Work Work. You don’t have to fit in with the cool crowd or kiss the right ass. If you honestly work hard, people notice that and respect it. I would ask them to think about who they think has amazing work ethic and usually that means the group or company respects these people. I know at ABT the people that work the hardest and have integrity for their work are the ones that the director, ballet master, and colleagues alike have respect for.
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