Which Role Has Fulfilled You the Most?

By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Saturday, April 4, 2020

Photo: Selina Meier

Thank you for the question, andersen_annette

Oooh that’s a big question! So many roles have touched me. The lead ballerina in, Etudes, is very dear to me because it was my first Principal Part as a professional dancer. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to revisit the ballet every few years. I feel that Etudes represents my growth as a dancer and artist.

In Etudes. Photo: Costin Radu

The entire Balanchine repertoire means a lot to me because of my training at the School of American Ballet.  I spent four years in NYC admiring and learning Balanchine ballets, which became my foundation and core. Most recently, I trained with Merrill Ashley, for the premiere of Ballo Della Regina. Having the opportunity to learn from a living, Balanchine legend was a memory I’ll never forget. To be able to explore and dive into every step, every day for nearly five weeks was ballerina heaven. I learned so much from that experience that I consciously try to add to every role that I do moving forward.

Performing, Ballo Della Regina

As for full-length story ballets, Giselle is certainly a character I treasure. I felt, as many ballerinas must also, that I shared and understood many of the emotions of Giselle throughout the ballet. Falling in love, betrayal, heartbreak and finally forgiveness.

Giselle First Act with Jonathan Chmelensky.

The great challenge in Giselle was transforming from the mad scene in first act to finding the complete inner peace and calm to do the penches, center stage, alone with a spotlight in the second act. I believe that this ballet helped me discover new depths of my artistry that I’d never explored before. 

Giselle Second Act with Jonathan Chmelensky.

But I’ve never had more fun, than performing as Alice in Wheeldon’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Absolutely pure joy the entire way through! I love that production to pieces. It is magical! So much dancing! So many smiles to give to the audience!

Alice.

xoxo
-Hol

PS- You can currently stream Alice in your own living room, https://kglteater.dk/kgl/xtra/forestilling-alice-i-eventyrland?fbclid=IwAR2nAivcMEKzzwdCVdRrh3BZmrqgWT8h_SQVhfXO0JNFegsGKAKAIFDArzA

What Was It Like Working With Merrill Ashley?

By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, January 27, 2020

Thank you for the question @andreeaunicorn

Working with the legend, Merrill Ashley, was everything and more a dancer can wish for during a rehearsal period! She is AMAZING!

Studio Time with Merrill Ashley. Working with Jonathan Chmelensky and myself on the Pas De Deux

When I saw Merrill in the hallway of the Royal Danish Ballet for the first time, I ran up to her, gave her a big hug and I started crying. I was THAT excited! Absolutely, a complete, 100% fan girl moment. I knew ever since my boss, Nikolaj Hubbe, announced that she was coming to set Ballo Della Regina on us that she would be the highlight of the season!

Merrill Ashley working with George Balanchine in the New York City Ballet.

I trained in NYC at the School of American Ballet which is the ballet school that feeds in to the New York City Ballet, aka Balanchine’s company. So of course, I’ve grown up knowing exactly who Merrill Ashley is. She is someone I’ve admired greatly for a long time. Living Balanchine royalty. I also read her book when I was a teenager, Dancing For Balanchine, (I recommend it if you have not read it, to take a look) and as I read it, I kept nodding my head in agreement to the words on the page. Her opinions and views on things struck home when I could recognize the same thoughts from within myself.

Merrill and I working on a bit of the Sugar Plum Variation.
Merrill was so kind to come and watch my stage call and share her thoughts with me, even though she had just arrived from the USA and was most likely very jet lagged!

You could feel from day one in the studio with Merrill, that her goal for every dancer in the room, was bigger than just getting the ballet on and up to par. Merrill wanted to help you improve to be a better all around dancer. That is an exciting energy to feel from your coach. When you are already working hard, and then feel that energy coming from her, it just makes you want to work ten times harder. To soak up every second, every word of wisdom she has.

Studio Time with Merrill Ashley.

Under her eye, we explored every step in Ballo Della Regina. We spent six weeks, for five days a week with extended rehearsals everyday, to work on Ballo. This process came at our busiest time of the year which is of course, The Nutcracker season. So yes, some days were long. Some days we were more tired than others. Some days we wouldn’t even leave the theater until after the evening’s performance. We’d go straight from Ballo rehearsals to getting ready for the Sugar Plum Fairy or Cavalier. We were working very intensely but it was without a doubt, the best rehearsal process I’ve ever had. (Powerade did become a must have) 😉

Merrill doing the pas de deux with me, when my partner was busy in a different rehearsal.

I defiantly didn’t want to disappoint Merrill or let her down in any way but she made the atmosphere so nice and supportive that I was able to forget that I was dancing in front of one of the ballerina’s I admire and idolize the most in the world. The fear and intimidation vanished. There was room for jokes and stories! Oh the stories! To hear about Balanchine and that epic period of time she danced in was 100% ballet heaven. Everyday, I looked so much forward to going to work. I was completely inspired by her.

On stage rehearsal in the Raymonda Sets.

There is truly nothing more rewarding than to feel that you are improving as a dancer with your coach. My time with Merrill was a gift. I know in 5-10-20 years, I’ll still be talking about how lucky I was to get to work with Merrill Ashley!

xoxo
-Hol

Back stage after the premiere with Merrill Ashley and Stacy Caddell.
Bows at the premiere on January 12th, 2020 at the Royal Danish Ballet.

Do We Get Help Changing Costumes During A Show?

By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, August 26, 2019

Photo: Kasper Nybo

In fact, we do! And thank goodness! We have the most lovely colleagues that specifically help us with our costumes during a show and full costume rehearsals. We call them, Dressers. There are two dressers for every floor of dressing rooms. Approximately 12 dressers are in the house on a performance night.

Help backstage. Water and a pat down. Photo: Kasper Nybo

If you are the lead female and male dancer of the evening, you have your very own dresser. They help you with any costume changes, or anything that you could possible need throughout the night. It’s like having a guardian angel, helping you bring your best to the stage. They even bring you a glass of water in the wings. Which is totally going above and beyond their job but very much appreciated.

A dresser arrives to the theater around 6:30pm/7pm. They check the casting for the night and then put everyone’s costume in to their personal dressing room, including hair pieces and accessories. Then, they sit in the hallway waiting patiently for us to come out of our rooms to help us get dressed. All strings must be tucked away and all accessories on before we head down to the stage.

Swan Lake Hair Pieces

The dressers stay for the entire performance. Sometimes they are needed during the show for quick costume changes. For example, during Alice In Wonderland many people were playing several different characters in one show which required quick changes. In this scenario, the dressers are back stage with us. Otherwise, they sit by our dressing rooms waiting for us to come up from the stage and to help us get out of our costumes.

Swan Lake Costumes Ready for the Evenings Show

It is a complete luxury to have such lovely colleagues helping us getting dressed and undressed. They deserve a huge round of applause for all that they do for us behind the scenes.

xoxo
-Hol