Dec 29, 2021
This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Alexandra Damiani, Artistic Director at BJM-Les Ballets Jazz De Montréal. Alexandra was classically trained in dance in and around her home country of France. After winning the jeune ballet d’Aquitaine de Bordeaux competition in France, she received a scholarship to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in the US and has since danced at a variety of companies — including the company where she is now Artistic Director. Alexandra also has experience in the music and film industries, including an appearance in the acclaimed film Black Swan.
For Alexandra, some of her most formative years as an artist — and as a human — were her years in New York City. Upon landing in the United States, this city filled her with awe and curiosity around all areas of the arts and helped rid her of any anxiety and fear as a citizen in a foreign land. On the podcast, Alexandra discusses the modern dance industry and walks through her entire career but, most notably, shares why the “Big Apple” holds a special place in her heart.
"Suddenly every conditioning I had, every expectation, every demand I was putting on my own body to be a dancer — all of that just exploded. In a moment, suddenly everything was possible. That was New York, for me."
"For the arts, the pandemic is a crucible. This is how we get clearer and stronger. And we can show what we're made of, in a way. There are huge opportunities, if we don't let fear paralyze us."
"Voice lessons and theater and, really, anything will add to your dance resumé. I think, more and more, choreographers want to have dancers who can really offer something."
"You can't be a contemporary dance company and not be a mirror of the society you are a part of."
"I feel very grateful that I have a voice and a platform so that I can be an example for my daughter — for my young dancers — and contribute in that way. At the same time, I don't have all the answers [for achieving female equality in dance leadership]. But we're at the start of a very long journey."
"Ultimately, leading this company is not about me. It's about me with the team, at the service of this dance company from Montreal. From Quebec. From Canada. And I like that challenge — that it will be a balancing act between just the right amount of history and innovation... It's a dance."
"For me, dance has no borders."
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
2:50: Alexandra, who previously danced for BJM-Les Ballets De Montréal, discusses what it’s like to come back and now serve as artistic director.
3:57: Alexandra shares some lessons learned in her time as a performer that she hopes to implement as artistic director.
6:42: Damiani explains how she hopes to bring her own personality to her artistic direction, while maintaining the rich culture of BJM-Les Ballets De Montréal.
10:08: Damiani predicts her biggest challenge as she takes the reigns as artistic director.
14:02: Alexandra describes her excitement to be a woman in dance leadership, at this pivotal time when that male-centric culture is beginning to change.
18:37: Damiani, who has appeared in feature films like Black Swan, discusses her involvement in the music and film industry.
22:54: Alexandra retells stories from her life-changing years in New York City and how that time period came to define her as a dancer and as a person.
31:38: Alexandra imparts some advice to aspiring dancers who are hoping to succeed in the industry.
Bullet List of Resources –
BJM-Les Ballets Jazz De Montréal