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Stories from a dance career episode 3

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

It had been a long day of learning. I had just arrived home to our apartment, where Marie-Claire and I were living in the 8th district of Vienna, just behind city hall. I had been living there for 6 years already and the 3 story walk up was still just as tough.

It had been a very long day of learning and it was of course time to learn some more. When you only have 9 days to perfect the leading male character in a ballet, you don't ever stop learning. I was lucky though, I had the best coach I could ask for living with me.

We must have gone through that first meeting of Giselle and Albrecht 100 times that night. The way I touched her hand for the first time, the way I playfully tossed the flower aside, The way I lifted her chin. I wanted it all to be perfect...and I only had 9 days.

It's an unusual feeling being asked to jump in for a leading role. You have an idea of the kind of performance you want to deliver, but there is an extremely limited time to develop your story, learn the choreography, and train yourself for the stamina required to still be standing at the end.

Good thing this was Giselle and I was literally being asked to dance to my death in the second act. For once I could use the inevitable fatigue to my advantage.

I had an amazing partner in Liudmilla Konovalova and I got to work with the best of the best coaches, but I dare say it was the time I spent refining the little moments in my living room that defined my performance.

Every day leading up to the show I would work all day long and then come home and rehearse with Marie-Claire. She understood nuance, and the detail in her story telling inspired me to take my time...what little time I had.

Fast forward to the night of the performance, I'm standing in the wings, my mind racing....Is my cape right? Do I look princely? Am I holding the sword correctly? Is that my music?

And then it all goes blank...not bad blank....the good kind of blank. The kind of blank where you don't need to think and the movement just happens...and then in a flash the performance was over and I was standing centre stage taking my bow.

It had all come together only a year after breaking my foot on the exact same stage, A year after missing what I thought at the time was to be my defining performance for my new director. For now I was happy, I was successful, I was ready to do whatever it took to keep dancing and I had come so far in a year. Little did I know the challenges that awaited me, the lessons I still had to learn.

What would come the following year would redefine my career....

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