David Hallberg’s family come from Fort Wayne, and in anticipation of Sunday’s relay of the Bolshoi’s The Sleeping Beauty, which marks his début with the company, he answered questions from the town’s News-Sentinel:
How much time have you spent in Fort Wayne, and what memories do you have of it?
I spent a good part of my childhood in Fort Wayne. I remember vividly spending a lot of time with family, in their respective neighborhoods. And I still visit when I have the chance. Obviously, my “hangouts” have changed from the country club pool as a child to now spending time at Club Soda, where my cousin is a bartender.
Fort Wayne has always been about family for me. The Bercot family has always had huge gatherings, and I was always very much a part of them.
How did you become interested in ballet as a career?
I first became obsessed with Fred Astaire, and then started tap lessons. Then my obsession changed from jazz and tap to ballet. And then I found my true calling as a ballet dancer.
How did you feel when you received the invitation to dance with the Bolshoi?
I was overwhelmed, but very practical. I asked a lot of questions. And it took me two months to decide if I was going to go or not. It was the hardest decision of my career, thus far. It was and is a huge sacrifice. But when it came down to it, I was up for the plunge and the risk.
What is the difference between Russian and other styles of ballet?
Russian style is very preserved, very respected. Therefore, it has remained a certain way for a long time. Other styles, like in America, are basically a mix of all styles. There is no one way or the other. It is a mixture.
Will one of your roles at the Bolshoi be to help them learn American- or Western-style ballet?
They will, hopefully, be influenced by my dancing just as much as I will be by them. That is very important to me. To leave this experience enriched but to also give a different outlook to them as well.
What are you most looking forward to through this opportunity with the Bolshoi?
To grow as an artist. My search is to always learn. Even as the “star,” people make assumptions that I will only want to do things my way. But this is as much a growing experience for me as it is for the Bolshoi. My mind is open to doing things in a different way. And I only hope that the Bolshoi is just as open.
Photo: Hallberg by Hallberg – Twitter photo from Cuba
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.