Quinn Wharton photography
choreographer, Yuri Possokhov
… with Joffrey Ballet dancer, Alberto Velazquez
After making sure I deeply immersed myself in the artistic culture every city had to offer, I also made sure to drown in each city’s way of life and customs. During my free time abroad, I had the opportunity to visit many of Europe’s most famous museums and monumental sites: the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijkmuseum, the Rijksmuseum, the Duomo di Milano, the Roman Colosseo, l’Arc de Triomphe, the museum of Jacquemart André, the Rodin Museum, and the Eiffel Tower, to name a few. It was truly moving to see the growth of artistic interest influence people’s way of living.
After several weeks of constant questioning and intrigue about my European travels from my family and friends, it was finally time to return to work. I immediately applied what I had learned abroad not only in the studio, but also in my everyday life, which came in handy when working on dance shots with up-and-coming professional photographer, Quinn Wharton and collaborating with world-famous choreographer, Yuri Possokhov. I hired Yuri to create a new ballet on me, one that I solely own in perpetuity. Never in my two year career has any choreographer created a piece on me, and to have Yuri, someone who’s known me since I was seven and knows the ins and outs of my technical ability, craft a ballet on me was an amazing experience. He wasn’t reluctant to challenge me and push for something outside my comfort zone. Although there were a few rough days during the creation and rehearsal process of the new piece, the outcome was more than what I could have asked for.
To be young and cultured. What does that exactly mean? It describes someone who chooses to live a lifestyle, exploring new avenues and whose intrigue fuels his/her desire to learn beyond the obvious. I’d say that’s me. I never want to feel satisfied or content with what I’m doing because then I will have reached a point of boredom. Life, to me, is about staying excited. I always like to be challenged and try to surpass my handed struggles, for that makes my successes that much more tasty. This Leonore Annenberg Fellowship has pushed me to experience beyond the expected and stay relative to the happenings of the now. Words cannot describe how much I’ve learned and the amount of gratitude I have in my heart for being given this award and all the opportunities that came along this past year. All I can say is thank you, from the deepest sincerity of my heart.
My final stop on my European journey was Paris, France. What better way to end the most amazing adventure than in a country where ballet originated? Visiting the Opéra Bastille and Palais Garnier, the two stunning home theaters of the world-class Paris Opera Ballet was an amazing experience that I will keep with me forever. To have been in the theatre that shaped and nested countless étoiles of the dance world was truly a special moment for me.
The Bolshoi Ballet has always been hailed one of the best ballet companies in the world. Therefore, one could imagine my excitement when visiting Moscow, Russia, where the passion and seriousness of ballet equalled that of any sport valued in America. Also, I could barely contain my eagerness on flight to Moscow, for I knew that in a matter of hours, I’d be reunited with the dear friends of my graduating class from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Upon my arrival, I was thrilled to hear that during my two-week stay, a handful of my ex-classmates would compete in the Moscow International Ballet Competition. It was truly inspiring to see all the international talent on one of the world’s most beautiful stages. I also reunited with one of my mentors, Marina Alexandrova, and we worked privately everyday to retouch my technique. I learned so much from her, and just to see her and have her teach again brought me so much joy. Furthermore, I attended many performances, all different, all equally stunning. I had the privilege of watching the Bolshoi Ballet perform George Balanchine’s beloved ballet, Jewels, and another exceptional company, the Stanislavsky Theatre perform Jorma Elo’s 1st Flash, Jirí Kylián’s Seche Tanze. Petit Mort and Sleepless, and Marius Petipa’s Giselle. My passion for the art form multiplied during every minute of each performance. To be back in the city where I studied for a year and practically breathed ballet, and back in the country where my art form is not only valued but proudly admired was inexplicably inspiring. The Russians’ hunger for dance and perseverance for excellence sparked that much more motivation and drive that I knew needed to be reignited.
From there, I trained it through the alluring villages of Zurich, Switzerland and made my way to Dresden, Germany, where I visited the prominent Semperoper Ballett, that dominates the Theaterplatz on the river Elbe. The theater’s artistic director, Aaron S. Watkin visually sees his company as breaking boundaries between the classical and contemporary worlds of dance. From what I saw, he fully strives to accomplish his goal with constant nurturing and attention of his beautiful dancers, which is what every dancer hopes for in an artistic mentor.
I then journeyed to the lovely city of Hamburg, Germany where I visited John Neumeier’s company, the prestigious Hamburg Ballett. It so happened that I arrived in time for Neumeier’s 4- week gala, celebrating his 40th anniversary as artistic director and chief choreographer. The month-long gala, known as Hamburg Ballet-Days, is a series of myriad performances by the company, each program presenting a different work from their seasonal repertoire. It seemed almost impossible to think a ballet be revived with such a scarce amount of rehearsals, but nevertheless, Hamburg Ballett executed with aesthetic movement and clarity. Aside from taking company class with Hamburg Ballett’s exceptionally talented dancers, I was lucky enough to attend opening night of the gala, when they so brilliantly performed John Neumeier’s Shakespeare Dances: All the world’s a stage. The ballet consisted of numerous duets, each depicting William Shakespeare’s most prominent playwrights. The next night, Bayerische Staatsballett performed as a guest company in two very famous ballets, Jerome Robbin’s, Goldberg Variations, and world-class choreographer Jirí Kylián’s, Gods and Dogs. Both performances offered a unique perspective on today’s dance world, and how artists have evolved from the classics in search of something inexplicably daring and untraditional.
Dresden :: Hamburg, Germany