Oct 8, 2019
This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra sits down with Nicolas Blanc, Ballet Master and Principal Coach for the Joffrey Ballet. Prior to his current role, Nicolas received formal dance education from a number of esteemed schools, including the Paris Opera House, and danced with a number of internationally recognized ballet companies, including the Nice Opera Ballet, the Zurich Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet. Blanc garnered countless awards spanning multiple continents and was even recognized as one of the “Top 25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine.
As Nicolas has come to find, the transition from dancer to coach isn’t an easy one and involves, in many ways, having to reform your identity. On the podcast, Nicolas recounts his ballet journey and vulnerably shares the difficulty of moving beyond his past phase of life to his current phase of life. However, in the midst of the heartache, Blanc has positioned his current role with a positive frame of mind — that being a coach is a matter of generosity and sharing your skills to enhance the performances of future generations.
“[When transitioning from dancer to coach], I lost so much of my identity. Because, as a dancer, so much of your value is what you produce. Our bodies are such an instrument that, once you don’t work with this instrument, you have to recalibrate things."
“In changing from a dancer to a ballet master, it gives you a broader view of things. As a dancer, because you have so many demands, you have to focus on yourself or the ballerinas you’re dancing with. Once you step aside, it’s about refocusing your generosity — not necessarily to an audience but to the people who are around you."
“Dancers are the brushes for a painter."
“The best victories for ballet mastering is when someone tells you, 'What you said clicked in my mind like a lightbulb.’ Or when you see someone that had a beautiful performance, you know that they’ve listened to your corrections, and because of what you gave them, their performance was enhanced in quality."
“Being a ballet master is all about sharing your knowledge and letting the dancers dance to the best of their ability."
“When I was a Principal with San Francisco Ballet, I always made a point to go see other dance forms. I would always look at other performances because I thought it was a really enriching experience, rather than staying a little bit too much in my bubble."
“I love the European dance style. When I come back and see the Paris Opera, it is so pretty and clear, and every movement is so pristine and so well-achieved. The elegance in Europe is quite unique. The European work has been praised for a reason for that."
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
3:03: Nicolas discusses his role at the Joffrey Ballet and, at a high level, how being a ballet master differs from the life of a ballet dancer.
5:08: Nicolas shares the most difficult aspect of transitioning out of dance — having to reform your identity — and gives some encouraging words to dancers making this type of transition.
8:39: Blanc discusses some of his most recent choreography and what he’s working on currently.
10:15: Nicolas retells his ballet journey and how he initially wanted to be a jazz dancer.
12:57: Blanc continues his ballet story and discusses why he especially loves the European style of dance and was able to carry over this style to his performances in America.
17:50: Nicolas shares about his positive experience with the San Francisco Ballet and his fondness for the city of San Francisco.
20:38: Nicolas discusses what’s next for him, both personally as an artist and professionally as a ballet master.
Bullet List of Resources –