Jonathan Calsan, director of District Ballet Company here, blogging for the first time in my life. Please direct all complaints to Executive Director of Development and Outreach, Katherine Locke, who instructed us to write these things.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why District Ballet, and the stories that come out of this place, is unique. I can tell you it’s because we do both contemporary and modern ballets and more traditional ones. I can tell you that it’s because we are largely an unranked company, meaning that each dancer has the potential of dancing a big role in a ballet, and a big role in one ballet doesn’t mean you get a big role in the next (and so on, just as in stories.) I can tell you it’s because I pride myself on fostering talent, and not letting other things–illness, injury, poor family planning (you know who you are…)–get in the way of someone’s career.
But I think it’s about people. It always comes down to people, doesn’t it?
Not just who they are on stage, when they’re dancing, or even when they’re just in this building. But who they are offstage.
Alyona Miller, who told her story (and Zed’s) in Turning Pointe, Second Position, and Finding Center, is a better person for helping with Zed’s theatre kids. For spending time in a cafe and playing piano again.
Sofia Estrada teaches dance to immigrant and refugee children on Sunday mornings. On her day off! Because for her, that’s a way that she gives back to her community, when she was once a refugee.
Yevgeny and Yana Sirko compete nationally in traditional Ukrainian folk dance, and they teach Ukrainian to Ukrainian kids, and English to Ukrainian immigrants. Helping one generation adapt to a new home, and helping the next generation remember the former.
Madison Dahl is a painter. She did the new mural in our entryway. I don’t think any of us even knew she painted until she asked me if she could paint the bland walls and showed me some of her art online.
It changes the way you dance, and the way you think about dance, when your world is bigger. Stories are never about one part of our lives. They’re always about the bigger part, about the mosaic of our experiences coalescing into the fabric of our identity.
All of these other external things can happen–we can break up, get married, fall in love, fall out of love, move to new cities, move to new countries, get injured, get better, lose someone, find someone–but the story comes from what we do in those moments, and that comes from who we are.
I think knowing, fostering, and believing that all of my dancers are bigger than the piece of themselves they share with me in this building is what makes District Ballet Company special. Because then, the story we tell on stage and on the page, that’s a bigger story. That’s a story about people. And all of us can relate to that.
Next Friday, a post from Alyona! Stay tuned for more and thanks for poking your head into our new online home.
SURPRISE! Want to win a copy of Alyona and Zed’s first full length book? Click here to enter! (Opens a new window)