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What Is the Best & Worst Part of Working For The KGL Teater?

By | Backstage | No Comments

Thank you for the question, Frederikke_staghoej

Swan Queen Bow.

Let’s get the worst part out of the way. 😉 The worst part is that the KGL Teater is located 4,053 Miles or 6,523 Km away from my family. Copenhagen is really, really far away from “Home”. When I had my first show with the company… no one I knew was there. When I had my first solo… no family members were in the audience.. When I got promoted to soloist… no one was there… Even when I got promoted to Principal Dancer… not one family member was there…

My Promotion to Principal Dancer on Balanchine’s Theme & Variations.

I have gotten to share these experiences with many wonderful people, including fantastic audience’s but the fact remains that as much as my family wishes to be a part of my career, there is a distance because of the literal distance.

A Family Photo.

The people that sacrificed so much of their own lives in order for me to follow my dreams, without any sort of guarantee that anything would ever happen, missed all the glam. Not just my parents, but supportive friends throughout the years and even my ballet teachers that taught me what ballet is. None of it was shared directly with them, since becoming a professional.

Now, did I call my loved ones on the phone as soon as anything exciting and life changing happened? Yes! But isn’t there nothing quite like getting a hug from your own mother, while she whispers in your ear, I’m so proud of you, right in the moment? Or at the very least, that same evening. For them to be there, with you, sharing the atmosphere.

It doesn’t get easier over the years… you just get used to it. It is what it is.

Black Swan with Ulrik Birkkjær. Photo: Costin Radu

The Best part of working for the KGL Teater is the company, the Royal Danish Ballet. I am so fortunate to perform in absolutely drop dead gorgeous, customized costumes, on a big, historical stage, surrounded by around sixty other talented dancers whom are all dancing the most infamous ballet steps that have ever existed or the steps that will be the future’s most infamous ballet steps.

It takes a big theater, a large, financially supported company in order to be able to dance some of those biggest dream roles. The dream of Swan Queen in Swan Lake is to dance the entire thing. White and Black Swan. Beginning to end. To go through every emotional feeling til the very last step. For that, you need to be part of an exceptional organization that can create the production and have enough people to fill every role and enough money to pay everyone from the stage hands, to the light designers, to set designers, to costume designers, to ballet masters, to…. etc.

Swan Queen with Ulrik Birkkjær. Photo: Costin Radu

The Royal Danish Ballet was so fortunate to put on Christopher Wheeldon’s, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland in 2016 & 2018. That production was expensive… millions of Kroners expensive. The Royal Danish Ballet shared the cost of the production with another well established ballet company, The Royal Swedish Ballet in order to be able to perform it. It was a sensational production. Absolutely mind blowing. So in my opinion worth every penny.

It’s the type of production that I wouldn’t even have access to if it wasn’t for the KGL Teater, and The Royal Danish Ballet. I have some of my best performance memories from this production. I will never forget the joy I felt performing as Alice.

3rd Act of Wheeldon’s production of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.

The KGL Teater has given me the stage for my dreams to come true. Thank you will never be enough to explain the gratitude I feel for such a special place. Even if it is really, really far away.

My Fist Pump after getting promoted to Principal Dancer.

xoxo,
-Hol

Do You Know Any Good Ballet Schools Outside of Denmark?

By | Ballet | No Comments

By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, October 11, 2019

Thank you for the question idataggaard!

Yes! I will highlight three schools that I believe are very interesting and worth checking out, that are outside of Denmark.

The School of American Ballet. aka SAB.

Now, I might be a bit biased because this is the school that I attended for four years, year round. I credit SAB for giving me my tool box to become a professional. They are a huge part of my foundation and I truly don’t know if I would be where I am today without them.

Photo from the SAB website. Teacher: Suki Schorer

SAB is located in the heart of New York City. Lincoln Center. 66th & Broadway. They train only in the Balanchine style. ALL the dancers that join New York City Ballet must be trained by SAB. So, if you dream of dancing for NYCB one day, then you must attend SAB.

I believe in this school 100%. Their strengths are definitely giving their students a wonderful technique. They teach how to move quickly, how to interrupt the music, and how to move big. You’ll learn a lot and be a much improved dancer by attending SAB.

Picture from SAB website. Teacher: Kay Mazzo

I am very grateful to this school and would recommend everyone to audition for their summer program! It was always so much fun! NYC is not to be missed!



The Royal Ballet School.

I am very impressed by the Royal Ballet School in London, England. They train in the English style of ballet. The system of training is based on the legacy of Ninette de Valois. It is located right in Covent Garden.

Picture from The Royal Ballet School’s Website.

What makes this school stand out, at least in my eyes, is that they have put a huge focus in to a “Healthy Dancer Program.” They have a team of 20, dedicated to the children attending the school. It includes,

Healthcare Manager
Clinical Psychologist
Counselors
Rehabilitation Ballet Instructors
Physiotherapists
Performance Nutritionists
Sports Physicians
Strength and Conditioning coaches
School Nurses
Pilates instructors

Each child is screened and profiled to create a conditioning program that will specifically help them succeed.

The team also collects information alongside the English Institute of Sport, which gives the school wonderful insights about nutritional support.

The school even has counselors as part of a school-wide mental health provision, led by a clinical psychologist Mental Health and Safeguarding Lead. This is so important. The mental side of ballet is the hardest.

Other ballet schools may have elements of what the Royal Ballet School is offering but they are defiantly leading the way.


Canada’s National Ballet School. aka. NBS

The reason why I mention this school is because many of the dancers currently in the Royal Danish Ballet have been trained by NBS. Dancers that I truly admire. For example, Ji Min Hong and Alexander Bozinoff. They all speak very highly of the school. This school is located in Toronto, Canada.

Picture from NBS Website.

The school is modeled after the Royal Ballet School in London and includes living facilities, and exchange programs for their students. This school is definitely also worth looking more in to.

How To Not Feel “Too Big” To Do Ballet?

By | Backstage | No Comments

By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, October 7, 2019

Thank you for the question, Saralykkemadsen

This is a very honest and brave question. Quite frankly, it’s a question that almost all professional and non-professional dancers ask themselves.

There is a lot of pressure on ballet dancers to be thin. You want to feel light to your partner, you want to be proud of how you look in that unitard.

Our “habitat” doesn’t exactly help the situation. Being surrounded by mirrors for hours a day, keeps that pressing question in the front of our minds, Am I too big for ballet?

Firstly, I want you and all aspiring to be ballerinas out there to know, that you are not alone. Even if your friends don’t admit it, they all feel the pressure and have the same worry.

I remember when I was in my teens thinking, “If only I was thinner, then I wouldn’t even have to think about my weight. How nice that must feel to come in to work and just dance without that worry.”

Secondly, I want all you beautiful, young people to know that being a teenager is tricky. Your body really is going through changes and it will take some time for you to figure it out. And that is ok.

Listen to your body. It is giving you hints of what it needs. Everyone will have advice. EVERYONE. You will have to filter that advice, which is the trickiest part, especially because you are still young and finding your way. But the more you believe in that gut feeling you have, the more you pay attention to yourself, you will find your confidence in yourself which will pour out of you and this question will no longer exist. You’ll learn how to love yourself.

I was always told that running was bad for me, so I never did it. I wish I hadn’t listened. I love to run and it makes me feel fit. I feel, I need the cardio to stay at a ballerina weight. If I had discovered that in my teens, maybe I could have erased so many of those depressing thoughts of feeling too big.

Running 5K in Kongens Have.

Thirdly, the goal is to be healthy. Try not to get obsessed with a number or a goal weight. I would recommend to stay away from a scale. The goal should be to be a strong, satisfied, healthy and happy human being.

Educate yourself about what types of food fuels the body and what types are purely empty calories. You can learn a lot on a google search on the internet or even on Netflix’s, there are many ways to learn more about your body that is fun! Then, be smart about your choices but without being impossibly strict.

Discover ways to be excited about eating healthy. Maybe that means finding fun recipes. Experiment with smoothies. Pick up a vegetable from the store that you’ve never cooked before and spend the evening figuring out how to add it to your dinner. I find that when I eat healthy, I already feel better about how my body looks because I know I am giving it the nutrients that it really needs.

If you feel happy, and proud of who you are and what you look like, this fear of being too big for ballet will disappear.

Keep reaching for your dreams! Photo: Jan Christensen

Personally, I needed to find an extra form of exercise that made me feel fit. My answer is Running. Some people enjoy biking more (biking always gave me a heavy feeling in my thighs) some enjoy the elliptical (great invention!) some prefer the rowing machine (impressive!) swimming (oooh I love to swim) and some would rather do hot yoga. It’s completely individual.

It also helps to find a second passion. Maybe you also enjoy to sing. Or you love to write stories… read, hike, cook…whatever it is, it is always a good idea to have a more rounded life. When ballet becomes your entire identity, you put yourself in a very vulnerable position. What happens when you get injured? Or when your dreams weren’t quite what you thought?

It’s never fun to feel like you are falling apart. By keeping a life full of curiosity for many things, you will give yourself the biggest gift.

So, how to not feel too big for ballet… learn to love yourself. Be realistic, and honest but use it to encourage yourself to become the best version of yourself.

By having this question, this thought, it just shows that you care. That you are dreaming to be a ballet dancer and that is amazing! Never lose this. You are going through a natural phase of becoming a ballerina. You are figuring out how to be proud of your hard working body. Never stop dreaming.

Photo: Signe Roderik

xoxo
-Hol

How Many Pirouettes Can You Do!?

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How Many Pirouettes Can You Do!?

By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, October 4, 2019

Thanks for the fun question, buster_jensandersen!

Pirouettes, pique turns, lame ducks, fouette turns, chaines, soutenu’s… I sure do love to turn! There is something about that feeling of being so on balance that you can make the world spin around you, while you stay put!

In my dreams I can turn 6, 7, 8 times around.

Reality always hits! I’ve NEVER done 6, 7, or 8 turns in real life. The dream lives on…

My average is 3 turns. I can consistently do 3 turns to my right. To the left, not nearly as consistent. More, every once in awhile.

3 turns in various ballets.

I can do 4 turns! But I’ve only ever done 4 turns in the studio. Whereas I have done 3 turns on stage multiple times. When I’m in the studio and go around 4 times I always have a little moment of, Did anyone just see that!? It’s exciting. 🙂

Today in the studio!

When you turn on stage and go for more then just two, you are taking a risk. It’s liberating. You can’t save a turn if you go for an additional rotation without being on balance. You will fall out of it. Consequently, possibly making a bit of a mess of your variation…

On stage there is a lot more pressure then just in class. I tend to thrive on the stress! I love the idea of pushing beyond your own limits in front of an audience. I’m a true believer of now or never! I always take the risk and go for 3 turns on stage.

I wouldn’t take this risk though if I didn’t believe in my turns. The faith comes from all the hard work done in class. I’ve analyzed how much force I need, (less is more in my case) and I use my personal corrections to keep my turns turning. Corrections such as, higher passe, don’t over open my left arm (when turning to the right), and to feel my arms being lifted up from underneath them.

How many turns can you do!? What corrections help your turns!?

Keep in mind that a single turn that is placed, turned out and controlled can be just as beautiful as multiple turns. It isn’t about the number, but the quality.

xoxo
-Hol