Why did you start dancing?
I used to wait for my sister while she was taking ballet classes. The teacher and owner of the school (Murielle Maurin) saw me, she pulled me into the class, and said, “We never had a boy, so you will be the first one!”
Which dancer inspired you most as a child?
I never was really inspired by ballet dancers but by performers such as Michael Jackson and Gene Kelly, but I appreciated dancers such as former Paris Opera Principal Patrick Dupont and international ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Which dancer do you most admire?
Marcelo Gomes. We were both at the Paris Opera School; he always worked really hard and he climbed with ease the steep hierarchy of American Ballet Theater. He is today a dancer to watch.
What’s your favourite role?
I do not have a favorite one; I believe every single piece I danced was an amazing experience, though some are very famous such as Apollo, Othello, Sea Shadow, The Dream… Each piece needed a particular approach, very different and unique.
What role have you never played but would like to?
I would love to dance Spartacus – I really enjoy epic stories.
What’s your favourite ballet to watch?
I love to watch any ballet with a story line really, I find the challenge of acting while dancing very exciting.
Who is your favourite choreographer?
In order Edwaard Liang, Christopher Wheeldon, Lar Lubovitch, Yuri Possokhov, very recently Stanton Welsh and of course my mentor Gerald Arpino.
Who is your favourite actor?
Leonardo Di Caprio for sure, I think he might be close to my age and I got to see most of his movies; he has done a great job in each one. Too often we see actors doing a great movie then a very bad one.
Who is your favourite singer?
My favorite singers are Cyndi Lauper and Michael Jackson. I have seen both in concert they are absolutely amazing.
What is your favourite film?
I don’t have a favorite but I enjoyed being involved in Christopher Nolan’s movie The Dark Night. You can see me for a blurry second in the scene when Christian Bale, alias Bruce Wayne, is sleeping in his chair during a meeting. I am his body guard standing right behind him.
Which is your favourite city?
Chicago is my favorite city, there is so much to do. There is a night life, a beautiful downtown, and suburbs with a lake with gorgeous beaches. The city is growing and has lots of summer activities.
What do you like most about yourself?
I love to take risks and try things; I consider myself an entrepreneur. My latest fun project is called the Ballet Monsters (balletmonsters.com) it will be online around March 2013. I created a line of funny aliens and humans doing ballet. There is also a story line on the website with many fun drawings and bios. The T-shirts are colorful, fun and very cute.
What do you dislike about yourself?
I have been very hurt from lies and misleading relationships. I am a much more guarded person today, and can be very secretive: I do not trust very easily.
What was your proudest moment?
Performing at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, my home town. I am from the Paris Opera Ballet School and I was told I would never dance because of my height, 6’6″. Only a few believed in me: Max Bozzoni, Bernard Boucher, Claude Bessy, Gerald Arpino and my parents. Today I am the tallest professional ballet dancer in the world.
Dancing at the Gala of Stars of the 21 Century in Paris was a huge victory for me, and a clear message for all the haters: “It is only impossible until it gets done!”
When and where were you happiest?
I dream and wish to help my parents by buying them a home. I do not want them to work anymore unless they want to, or worry about money. They have done so much for me and I want to repay them so badly. It has been on my mind since I have been in the US. Their happiness will make mine.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I have a beautiful stunning girlfriend but I am not sure she wants me to reveal her identity! Regardless, I will admit I have a special place for the actress Charlize Theron.
What is your greatest fear?
I greatest fear is to not be able to realize my wish to help my parents.
What is your most treasured possession?
I am a collector, I love pretty much everything old/antique with a unique value. I have a Joffrey Ballet Time Magazine cover from 1968, signed by Robert Joffrey the founder of the Joffrey Ballet; this is priceless.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I would love to have a muscle cars collection, I used to drive a 1967 Firebird a few years ago; I really enjoy working on mechanics. I would enjoy spoiling myself with a 1970 Dodge Charger, 1967 Shelby Cobra, 1971 Cuda and some European models also such as the 1988 Ferrari Testarossa and the legendary 1982 Lamborghini Countach LP500S! But…
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I often witness jealousy and hate to win against someone playing nice and by the rules. I believe in all virtues, but I feel today that I am always getting the short end of the stick for accepting this is true. The majority always wins, and it seems that I might be one of the few overrated dinosaurs believing in virtue.
If you hadn’t been a dancer what would you have liked to do?
I would have liked to have been an air force pilot.
What is your most marked characteristic?
My left eyebrow and my height: 6’6″.
What quality do you most value in a friend?
Honesty and loyalty.
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Honesty and loyalty.
What is your motto?
“Always give 200%”.
Fabrice Calmels — a biography
Born and raised in France, Fabrice Calmels began ballet training at three years old. In 1991, Fabrice entered the prestigious, 300-year-old Paris Opera School, under the direction of Claude Bessy. Through his training he worked with world-renowned dance masters such as Serge Golovine, Gilbert Mayer, Max Bozzoni, John Neumier, Jirí Kylián, Violette Verdy, and also performed at the beautiful Opera Palais Garnier theatre.
In 1998, a 17-year-old Fabrice moved to New York. He furthered his training by joining The Rock School, and danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet. Fabrice grew to perfect and expand his technique in America. At Boston Ballet, under the direction of Anna-Marie Holmes, he learned the Russian technique with ballet masters Tatiana Terekhova and Sergei Berezhnoi, and also the Balanchine style at The School of American Ballet.
After September 11, 2001, unable to acquire his visa to re-enter the United States, Fabrice returned home to France and joined Paris’s most famous cabaret, Lido de Paris. There he was fortunate to hone his pas de deux skills by performing the show’s acrobatic pas de deux.
In 2002, Fabrice finally settled in Chicago with the Joffrey Ballet, under the direction of company co-founder Gerald Arpino, again being exposed to another style of dance. In 2004 and age 23, Fabrice became a lead dancer at the Joffrey Ballet, notably through his principal role as Apollo. He was also coached by Sir Anthony Dowell for the title role of Oberon in Ashton’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the fall 2009, he performed the title role in the Joffrey Ballet’s première of Lar Lubovitch’s Othello.
Fabrice has danced several times for television and was interviewed for the documentary “Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance”. Additionally he partners with ABT principal Veronica Part and PNB principal Carla Korbes in guest performances throughout the world. In 2008 he joined the circle of The Stars of the 21st Century, becoming an internationally recognized artist. Fabrice has also expanded into acting, performing the role of Nijinsky in the theatre piece MISIA by writer Barry Singer, performed at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival. Fabrice has collaborated with and choreographed for world-famous musician Jean-Felix Lalanne, Autour de la Guitare in Paris. Fabrice has received numerous awards and accolades including a 2008 Top 20 (Chicago Tribune), 2009 Dancer to Watch (Chicago Tribune), 2009 Top 10 Entertainers by Chicago Mens Book, 2009 best French Artist in the State (by the French Union in America).
Currently, Fabrice is still dancing with The Joffrey Ballet. He is also focusing on choreography, modelling, writing a dance blog for the Chicago Tribune and maintaining and developing Ballet Monsters, his new business.