Dec 17, 2019
This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra interviews Chase Johnsey, award-winning dancer and Artistic Director at Ballet de Barcelona, who is using his influence in the ballet world to advocate for LGBTQ+ gender issues. Johnsey has danced for some high-profile ballet companies, including a lengthy stint with the world renown Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the English National Ballet. While at the latter, Chase was nominated by the UK’s National Dance Awards for Best Male Performance and Best Male Dancer, ultimately winning the latter.
Chase’s story is one of perseverance and determination. Being the first gender fluid dancer to dance in a conventional ballet company, Chase’s journey to ballet prominence was “the road less traveled,” and he experienced a degree of pushback and adversity that very few experience. However, even in the face of the odds, Chase pressed on and achieved great heights in the ballet world, including founding his own ballet company. On the podcast, Chase retells his whole story and shares some wise words around tuning out the haters and walking your own path.
“You can’t give up on yourself."
"My favorite word in the English language is ‘perseverance.’ There’s always a way — nothing is impossible."
“I’m really proud that, in my ballet company, my self-acceptance has filtered into my dancers’ self-acceptance."
“Never let your ego stop your progress… Every day, you go and make a tiny bit of progress. And after 365 days, you’ll have a lot of progress. Keep going forward. Keep getting better."
“I wasn’t going to let anyone else decide my life — what I’m capable of, what I’m going to do."
“I want to make works that challenge. I don’t want fairy tale, land of the sweets. I want to make art that really is current — that addresses real issues — that not only kids can relate to but also adults."
“I’m a stubborn person, and I knew that there was a place for me in the ballet world. And it was a decision that I made. I told myself, ‘I will find a place for myself in the ballet world, no matter what anyone else tells me.’"
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
3:28: Johnsey explains why he decided to move to Barcelona from the United States and how his ballet company — Ballet de Barcelona — came to be.
5:18: Chase discusses a dark time in his life prior to starting his own ballet company and what ultimately helped him overcome this hardship.
9:53: Chase shares the overarching vision for his ballet company — to establish an inclusive environment that uses its art to discuss real world issues.
12:36: Johnsey retells his ballet journey — what introduced him to and kept him in the ballet and how one of his earliest teachers was particularly influential in getting him where he is today.
15:15: Johnsey describes his experience dancing for the world renown Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.
17:17: Chase discusses the adversity he has had to overcome in his career — how the odds were always against him — yet how grit and determination has helped him achieve the unthinkable.
21:42: Chase describes the emotion of being nominated for two of the United Kingdom’s top arts awards and ultimately winning one of them.
24:36: Chase shares some of his most proud moments, including a notable event from his dance company and his involvement some incredible humanitarian efforts.
27:52: Johnsey gives some advice to aspiring dance professionals around staying humble and authentic.
30:46: Chase discusses some personal and professional goals he’d like to achieve within the next 5 years.
Bullet List of Resources –
Ballet de Barcelona