Interview: Lorris Eichinger
Edited by: 
Alexis Rosenstrauch

Q: How did you begin dancing?

My mom lives in Paris and I was born in France and trained most of my life in France and moved to the US at 16. My grandma has a video of the Nutcracker that I would always watch at her place. I think that started the desire in me to start dancing and then I asked my parents to dance. I started really young. When I was 12, I started doing a more conservatory level. At 14, I got into a French ballet school and 16 I got into School of American Ballet (SAB).

Q: What has dance taught you that you have applied to your everyday life and how you engage in the world?

Definitely a sense of rules and boundaries I sent for myself. This is a great example of how most dancers are so in our head and focused and not letting ourselves fall out of shape. Now that we are even having this forced vacation we keep training doing workout and pilates. We don’t let ourselves just drop. That rigour and the drive to not let it go really dance taught me that. You need that drive and you can apply that drive to so many things in life.

Q: Has dance helped you overcome any hardships in your life?

I think constantly, yes. I think it is a great way to channel emotional moments. I think we are lucky we have this artform that allows us to feel and you can dance through that emotion. You can really channel your everyday feelings into what you do. It also comes to an extreme where dance can cause that also because dance can upset you and drive you crazy as well, but you have the power and drive to overcome that. You never give up, you never put dance aside even when life happens. I think it can be harmful because you can forget what your issues are but you can also use dance to escape. Dance is my base.  No matter what happens I know I can always go back to dance.

Q: What other interests and passions do you have outside of dance that influence and inspire your artistry?

I enjoy visual arts and music in general a lot of classical music and opera. I am now taking an online class about opera because I have the time now. I took a university course in visual arts. I think it is such a different way, and we are all artists and we express in different ways. I am fascinated by how other people translate their artistry through their medium. I like to see how a painting is beautiful but why, how does it touch you, what is the technique behind the painter. Same thing with opera. Opera really touches me, but I ask what it is about music that touches us so much and that magic thing that feeling that gets us. I love to hear about history and I think we need to understand the history of music to understand what is happening now.

Q: What have been some challenges in your pre professional and professional career?

Pre professional was to find a job. I finished SAB when I was 19 and from there I thought well from SAB I will get a job and I was so oblivious because that is not what happened at all. I am really tall so I needed more training and strength. I did one year at P and B and then one year in France and Netherlands. I wanted to keep training to be ready for auditions. I thought I was going to quit and not make it. I did 3 years of auditing. Then I got a job and in my professional life I think a challenge is everyday we face a challenge. In the company it can be intense and as a new member there is pressure put on new members. It goes very fast. You learn many pieces quickly. For me, I was the only one who joined the company at the time and so I was the only one who had to learn all the new pieces. Social interactions in a company can be hard sometimes we are all overcoming pressure, but we love it so we do it. I joined the company in July 2019.  

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist? (community, financially, initial reactions, company shift, online class, emotions, initial cancellation reaction)

This is definitely a challenge. It has definitely brought me back a bit to what is real and important. To be stuck in my room for the past 3 weeks and keep my brain alive. It kind of brings it back to what is necessary and for me it is a bit complicated because I have wanted to take a bit of a break from dance. We just got back from tour so I had wanted a break. I am trying to keep in shape right now. I try to not think about it too much and I am starting to miss it which I like. I want to miss dancing again because often dance can become just a job. If we can't dance what do I have really? I was in my bed thinking “oh god I can't dance what do i do?” It is still a princess of what is happening. If I can't dance I can learn new things. What is the big question? Also, we think about what we do after we are performing artists. When we retire, I need to do something. It is a very interesting and challenging time. I think it is also ok to not be in my room and feel like I need to exercise and need to do something. I think it is ok to take a moment to not do anything, to also do something completely different not related to dance or artistic. I think playing games and learning something new as well. I try to also unplug from social media as well. There is this pressure when you look at social media with people doing a full barre and they have all this space to do that and just because they do it doesnt mean I have to do that and just focus on myself.

Q: Can you talk about the Initial cancellation of things and what that looked like for you?

When things started to get cancelled we were on a tour in Europe. We were supposed to go to Italy and then they got cancelled, so we went to France where we had shows. We had a 10 day stand by period in France. We were rehearsing a new program to premiere in April. When we flew back to the US, we still thought we would be able to perform, but one weekend they cancelled everything. For a little bit they thought we could finish the season in the US, but then last week they told us the rest of the season is cancelled. Lines is particular because we never really have company class; it is always open class. So we are offering open classes online. To be honest, I have not been taking many classes as a personal choice. We are in touch weekly with the company manager. Alonzo is also very supportive. He sends us messages and thoughts which is great.

Q: What social changes and responsibilities have you seen people making during the pandemic? Do you think the pandemic will make us a more socially conscious society?

Two things the social media imagine and the real imagine. If I follow what people are doing on instagram, it looks like everyone is taking class all the time, but then I talk to my friends and it is nice to hear that you can also relax. I have a friend who I checked on and he said what have you been doing and he said nothing. And he is usually always doing something and so active. It is nice to see people taking a break . I haven't seen anyone go crazy or really sad. I think somehow we are just resilient. Most people follow the rules and most people I know are doing pretty well.

Q: Using the idea of “worldmaking” how do you imagine the performing arts world after the pandemic?

First of all there will be a financial crisis so I think we see on social media when we get out of this remember the arts were there for you. The arts and ballet and the opera were the only places that gave things for free. The Met Opera is streaming things for free companies are showing online for free. There are not many things that give things for free. Why are the arts doing that now when we are one of the most struggling communities? I hope people realize that and when this ends, the arts will be supported more. I hope people will be interested in seeing art in real life and getting involved. I can't even remember how many times I have been asked oh you are a dancer? So what is your real job? I want people to not just know about dance but understand it and be more interested in it.

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