Now is an exciting part of the year for Milwaukee Ballet. Possibly my favorite actually. It is always the time in our season when we move the classical stylings of The Nutcracker onto more contemporary movement in a mixed rep series, where I know I'll see something new and dynamic, thought-provoking and inspiring. It is also the time when we physically move from the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts across the street to the historic The Pabst Theater. This move isn't just intended to give you a change of scene, it's to give you a different, more inimate view of the work. The Pabst is a smaller venue, bringing you closer to the action on stage. You see how the dancers' muscles are working, even read the facial expressions more clearly.
With this focus on getting the closer to the dancers, I wanted to interview with a few of them so you could get to know them a little better. Then I figured, how much more intriguing, would it be if the dancers were interviewing each other? I was happy when Isaac Sharratt and Alexandre Ferreira volunteered to be the first to give this little experiment a try, mainly because they keep me pretty amused in the studios, and I'm sure they'd come up with some fun stories. I hope you enjoyed the result as much as I did.
|Isaac Sharratt||Alexandre Ferreira|
Isaac Sharratt: Alex, about how old were you when you decided you wanted to be a dancer?
Alexandre Ferriera: You mean when I started dancing or when I decided I wanted to be a dancer as a profession? Because when I started I didn't know.
Isaac: No, no, no, like when you decided that you wanted to be a dancer professionally.
Alex: Oh, let me see... it was somewhere around fourteen or fifteen.
Isaac: So that's been about six or seven years then.
Alex: Yeah, somewhere in there.
Isaac: What was the deciding factor? What made you decide that dancing was what you wanted to do with your life?
Alex: Because, it was too difficult. It just started to get too difficult, and my teacher at the time told me I would never be a dancer. So, I decided I had to prove her wrong.
Isaac: Sound like a good enough reason for me. I agree, it's not an easy career, it's a new adventure every day, and I assume that you feel it's a rewarding one?
Alex: Yeah. (chuckles)
Isaac: I know there are days when you just wake up and say, "phew... how am I gonna do this today?" What gets you through those?
Alex: What gets me through those... geez... it's like any other job, some days just go so slowly, but all it takes it just enjoying what I'm doing. Just having fun with it.
Isaac: Of course the fives help, too, right? (laughs)
Alex: (laughs) Always.
Isaac: So, in your professional career, you've been with one other company, correct?
Alex: No. In America, yes.
Isaac: Oh, (laughs) well what about back home in Brazil?
Alex: Back home we have a small company that our school was attached to, so I count that. It was a young company, and they paid us and it counted as professional experience.
Isaac: Oh, nice. When did you start working with them? How old were you roughly?
Alex: I was sixteen.
Isaac: So, how is working here in the states different for you?
Alex: Well, it's America...
Isaac: True, but like, how does it compare? Do you enjoy one more than the other or about equal?
Alex: It's different... Back there I was just, like, sixteen. So, I did it more because it was just fun, I was dancing. I felt important because I was a part of a company. And I still was in school, so I had a job doing something I really enjoyed. It's still fun now, but my mentality has matured, it's a serious career. It's not just a fun thing that I do. It's my job.
Isaac: Well, Milwaukee is obviously a change from what you're used to. I mean the weather's different, the people are different, the company's different. How has it been coming from Brazil and Miami to Milwaukee? (laughs)
Alex: (chuckles) Crazy... Come on! I've never seen snow until, what? I month ago. I had never experienced a negative temperature! But it's still fun. New experiences, new life experiences.
Isaac: I understand, completely. I know when I came here I found not only the people I worked with, but also just the people in the city were so welcoming and friendly. Constantly joking with the Arizona boy! (chuckles) How do you find the people in Milwaukee?
Alex: I like them! They're friendly, and fun! Everyone will talk to you for the most part. Most are just surprised to see me here, always asking why I'd come to be in this weather.
Isaac: Which kinda leads to another question. When people ask and you tell them you work for Milwaukee Ballet, what response do you get usually? Are they surprised, excited...?
Alex: They're excited in a different way than I used to get in Miami. There I'd say I'm a dancer and they just assumed the exotic sort. Most didn't even know what ballet was. So, here people actually know the ballet. I went ice skating and someone just recognized me, and asked if I was The Nutcracker, because they had just seen the show a couple days before when I had performed Karl.
Isaac: That's always a good feeling. Well, what is the weirdest response you've ever received from someone after telling them you're a ballet dancer?
Alex: Some guy asked me what I do, and I told him I was a ballet dancer, and he just didn't get it. He responded with, "okay... but what do you do for a living?" I was like... I'm a ballet dancer.
Isaac: Well, I agree... not the most insightful response.
Alex: I would say that the biggest misconception in my opinion is that dance is a hobby. Something only eight year old little girls want to do to wear a tutu and do a pretty dance on stage. It's not just a hobby kids do, it's a viable job, a career path. A short career, but still a career.
Isaac: One more question that note, could you see yourself doing anything else right now?
Alex: Winning the lottery.
Isaac: Okay, excluding the lottery, is there another career you could see yourself pursuing?
Alex: Well... (thoughtfully) Not really. I mean, there were things I had thought about when I was younger, but nothing I'd enjoy as much.
Isaac: Like being a Jedi?
Alex: Yes, Isaac... Like being a Jedi...
Get up close with Isaac and Alex during the run of Winter Series at the historic Pabst Theater, February 16-19. Tickets start as low as $28.50!