Celebrating his 20th year as the artistic director of Ballet Arizona
How did you get your start in the arts? I was a 7 years old when I auditioned for the Royal Danish Ballet School. That was the start of my ballet career. In my first professional appearance, I was cast as a blue insect with wings in a Leoš Janáček opera.
What is the most rewarding part of your career? So far the most rewarding part has been being able to do something that I love. To me, it doesn’t really feel like work. I don’t like to work; I like to play. Lucky for me, I have gotten to do that these past 20 years.
What about the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge is to survive from one day to the next in this very difficult environment. Everywhere, the arts are so starved for support and you don’t get anything for free, so having the stamina to make it through the tough times in addition to celebrating the fruitful times has also been a challenge.
Congrats on your 20th year with Ballet Arizona. Why do you think you have been so successful with the program for two decades? I am always looking forward—rarely ever looking back. It is a good attitude to have, in the sense that I don’t carry around what happened yesterday. I don’t hold a grudge about anything. In that way, I have this very selective memory. Bad things I don’t really remember. They leave me very quickly. Is that the reason I have been successful? No. Maybe I have some talent too. We have, throughout the years, been blessed with donors who have believed in us and have invested money in our work. In that way, I have been lucky.
What do you hope for the future of arts and dance within the Valley? I hope that we will be prominent in whatever the future will bring to our community—that people will know we are here and what we stand for. I mean that for all of the arts in the area as well. I hope that we evolve and change with the times in such a sprawling city.
What influence do you hope to have on the Valley? I think it’s about quality. Quality creates quality. It doesn’t go the opposite way. If you see, taste or hear something that really has an impact on you as a person, you will seek that out again. My hope is that I have a direct or indirect influence on what is being shown, and what people expect for what they go and see.
What are some of your free-time passions? Eating and cooking. I am a 24/7 person in the arts. It’s who I am. Since I have been young, I have done more than just ballet—painting and sculpture as well. I cannot just go home, clock out and have a completely separate life. It is all one. It is not that I just enjoy making art; I am just obsessed with making art. It is something I have to do with everything I get my hands on.