Nov 12, 2019
This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Derrick Agnoletti, an accomplished dancer who is a veteran with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, going on his 17th season. Derrick is a “student of the game,” having studied at the San Francisco Ballet, the School of American Ballet, and various other international exchange programs. Derrick is also an accomplished athlete, having competed at a collegiate level in competitive swimming at the University of California at Irvine.
By combining his athletic and artistic abilities, Derrick brings a high degree of energy into his work and is able to embrace multiple styles of dance. But Derrick understands that the key differentiator that makes ballet more than athletic competition — that truly makes ballet an art — is the vulnerability found in the movements. On the podcast, Derrick highlights his own story, shares his perspective the state of ballet in 2019, and speaks to how vulnerability is integral to the art that we all love.
“To dance is a vulnerable thing. When you dance, you’re going up and beyond yourself and are pushing your ego aside… It’s what makes it an art and a discipline and not a sport.”
“As a young dancer, you want to see the ‘wham bam’ excitement, and you forget about the small transitions, which are what make the story tell itself through the movement."
“I always had something else that kept me from being ‘dance obsessed.’ I am very obsessive, and that’s what makes me love dance so much. I know that I have to have separation from it, so that it doesn’t take over me. Because it will."
“[To succeed in the dance world], introduce yourself to people. Learn how to speak. Talking, communication, networking — it’s absolutely everything. It’s like a Business 101 class."
“Watch dance. You have to watch everybody."
“You can make it happen if you want it… Whatever your dreams are, you have to work to make them happen."
“I think we’re really shaped by our failures because they are where we learn the most."
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
2:34: Derrick describes his first interest in ballet and how being involved in other non-ballet activities keeps him from an unhealthy obsession with the art.
9:13: Derrick retells his entire journey in ballet, from his first class as an 8-year-old to his current run with the Joffrey Ballet.
12:16: Agnoletti discloses his role models, who range from his parents to his college teachers to his very own colleagues and discusses the importance of watching as much dance as possible.
17:02: Derrick speaks to the current state of males in ballet and how responding to critics with grace is nothing more than a matter of perspective.
21:04: Agnoletti shares some rich advice for anyone that is looking to make a career in the dance industry and speaks to the importance of mastering the little things.
24:15: Derrick discusses the value of a college education for dancers, rather than jumping straight into a company from high school.
26:05: Derrick tells a story about a huge misstep in the middle of a dance and how he managed to compose himself and complete the performance.
27:59: Agnoletti describes the two biggest hurdles that he’s had to overcome in his ballet career.
29:34: Derrick discusses some upcoming and exciting events at the Joffrey Ballet.
Bullet List of Resources –