|Attempting to get a good shot as the sunrises over Masada & the Dead Sea in Israel|
After this crushing failure, I could have easily jumped on that flight and began training. But I just couldn't bring myself to leave. One day later, we drove three hours south to the Kirov Academy of Ballet. After a private audition, the late director stated in broken English, "Very slow year for boys. One third scholarship." This was far from my full ride to the Houston Ballet Academy and way out of the financial abilities of my family, but we were able to get a sponsor for my first month in the academy. As I headed down to the Kirov, I knew that I had to get greater sponsorship to continue my training at the school, but I felt hopeful that I was still close enough to New York City to feel connected to the center of the dance world. Then, two days later, September 11th happened, my sponsor froze their assets and I was left with an impossibility to continue my training. After the school graciously allowed me to remain for the first two months, they eventually decided to put me on full scholarship and I finished out my year of training.
At the end of my time at the Kirov, I had obtained a corps de ballet contract with Colorado Ballet. While I was ecstatic to begin my career as a professional. I had also been accepted to the School of American Ballet on full scholarship for their summer intensive. SAB was my dream and it had eluded me until this point. Seeing four students who trained at SAB perform in the Nutcracker that Robert Lafosse had choreographed was the defining inspiration that changed the trajectory of my career. I knew that I had to take this summer opportunity to see if a year-round option opened up. If this happened, I was willing to delay my career to live my dream. I called SAB and asked if they were considering me for the year-round program. They told me to take the job with Colorado Ballet because they couldn't promise me anything. So, I excitedly, yet reluctantly, signed my contract and started looking for a place to live in Denver.
A few months later, I arrived in Lincoln Center to finally realize a 5-week version of my dream. After three amazing days working with teachers I had only read about in Dance Magazine, I was pulled into a conference room along with one other classmate. There I was with one of my peers being the first two dancers asked to stay for this world-famous year-round program. I was committed to Denver, but my dream had just arrived. There was no way I could turn down this opportunity, even though it meant I had to train for another year, as well as destroy a very positive connection in the dance world. I promptly called up the director of Colorado Ballet and profusely apologized as I explained that I had to follow my dream. That next year at SAB changed my life as a dancer.
|SAB workshops 2003 (Photo: Paul Kolnik)|
My time at PNB has been well-documented in this blog. It had it's mix of highs and lows. While I was secure in my position and well-respected as a union delegate, I was itching to experience something new. I risked all of this security and seniority to try my hand at working with a fledgling, start-up company. After a great first few months, I injured myself and the company didn't support me. I was eventually fired by that company, which I consider one of my greatest failures. It wasn't so great only because I had moved my life to Philadelphia, but more so because I had given up so much to take such a huge risk.
|Taking risks daily|
As I begin to close the chapter on my most recent risk-taking failure, I am curious where life will lead me next. I took a chance to do something that I wasn't sure if it would be a great or poor decision. While I could look at the whole experience as an utter failure, what I am realizing is that my life is much like a dance studio. I spend each day of my life exploring different ways of experiencing this wild career and testing out ways of achieving my best through trial-and-error, or failure. Some things have worked out perfectly on the first try and some things have failed immediately. But in the end, the knowledge that I have gained and the growth I have had will only make my future experiences more successful. Failure can have such a negative connotation in our culture. But I just don't really see it that way. It takes practicing a pirouette ten-thousand times to finally achieve the perfect one. And, sometimes, right after that perfect pirouette, you fall hard on your ass, get back up, and try to make it perfect again.
|My greatest success at Alaska Dance Theatre|