Filed under: A Place to Perform
Max Levy, a dancer with North Carolina Dance Theater, has been alot of places in just his 19 years of being alive. Originally from Japan, Max’s family moved to the states where he continued his dance training in Colorado, then San Francisco until he joined American Repetory Ballet before finally joining NCDT.
en l’air: Besides ballet clothes, what is in your locker and dance bag?
Max Levy: My bag usually has a book. Right now I’m reading “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami. For paranoia’s sake, I always have contact solution, eye drops, Benadryl, Icy Hot, my glasses, EmergenC packets, quarters, a 3-prong to 2-prong outlet converter (don’t ask) and pens. I have alot of crap. In my locker, it’s all dance clothes except for a deck of cards and a Yellow Power Ranger action figure.
en l’air: What ballet schools did you attend and how long at each?
Max Levy: I started training in Tokyo, Japan at a small studio, and continued at another small school when I moved to Colorado. When I turned 16, I was invited as a trainee to San Francisco Ballet, and I was there for 2 years.
en l’air: What type of ballet shoe do you wear?
ML: Sansha Pro 1-C. Usually tan, if you’ve got it. Haven’t worn anything else for the past 4 years.
en l’air: What’s playing on your iPod right now?
ML: Last thing I heard on my iPizzle was “The Clock” by Thom Yorke.
en l’air: Do you have any embarrassing ballet moments?
ML: That would be all the times I’ve had to watch videos of myself from years back with my family and friends.
en l’air: What is your favorite ballet?
ML: Most people think “favorite ballet” pertains to some classic, 3-act production. Out of those, most of them are not really for me. Contemporary ballet is where it’s at for me. From what I’ve seen live most recently, Kylian’s “Sleepless” or Didy Veldman’s “frame of view” really hits the spot.
en l’air: What’s the most memorable performance you have seen?
ML: I’d have to say watching the Reverb show at the Ailey Center a year ago was probably the most dramatic show I’ve ever seen. The mix of styles, the amount of collaboration, and the fact that people were coming together for a celebration of their unique talents. As cheesy as it sounds, all the cliche things people say about ballet, dancing, community and communal spirit is ridiculously applicable and very real when you let it in.
en l’air: What’s the most memorable performance you have been in?
ML: One of my most amazing shows I’ve had the chance to be a part of was the San Francisco Ballet’s 75th Anniversary Gala. Even more important than the glamour of the gala, was that we were performing John Neumeier’s “Yondering”. With a cast of 20 something students, it was one of the best bonding experiences to take part in such a beautiful and emotional ballet.
en l’air: Do you have a pre-show ritual?
ML: It depends on each day and every show. Sometimes I’ll meditate. Other times I’ll relax and not worry about the show at all. But no matter what, I usually jam to my iPod and keep my body warm.
en l’air: What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?
ML: I like to draw a lot. I’ve drawn since I was a little kid, and it still keeps going today. I’ve been learning to try out new mediums, working on t-shirts as well as walls, paper, cardboard, candy wrappers, skin. Aside from art, I play a lot of video games. Sure it’s bad for our brains or whatever they say, but I do love it. I’ve been playing EVE Online, a futuristic space game with thousands of other people. If any of you know gaming terminology, it’s like WoW, but with less whiney 12 year-olds.
en l’air: If you were not a dancer, what else would you be doing?
ML: If I wasn’t a dancer, I’d probably dedicate all my time to art.
en l’air: Do you have any advice for nonprofessional dancers?
ML: A lot of times, you may hate a teacher, or think he/she is a stuck-up prick with favorites and will never be worthwhile to listen to. But you have to realize that if the teacher has something to say, listen, process, THEN judge. If the advice or words of wisdom really are full of crap, then you can filter it out. But take what everyone has to say seriously and see if it’s worth applying to your life. A lot of times, this will help you realize the value in everything and maybe you’ll even start to like the teachers you used to think were so worthless. As a student you have to realize that you’re shining “1-up” compared to a majority of professionals is perfect technique. As you spend more time in a company, your technique will most likely start to degrade. So as a student, make your technique something everyone can envy in you. Then when you become a professional, maintain that focus. So many people lose and especially if you have that technique, it’d be a shame for you to lose it too.
en l’air: What is the absolute best thing about being in a company?
ML: You get paid! No really. It’s wonderful to wake up everyday and get to do something you want to do. So many people will live two separate lives. One of work, and one of happiness, when they’re “off” of work. But with us, our work is our life. You can’t avoid it, and it’s a part of you no matter what you’re doing elsewhere.
en l’air: What is the hardest part of being a professional?
ML: I suppose the most difficult times in being a professional is just the same in being a student. Doing dances you think are worthless, or getting parts that aren’t as important as you want to be. There’s always hard times as a dancer, but that’s just part of the growth in realizing what it is you want to do, and what makes dancing worthwhile for each and every individual. And also, the second hardest part is doing these dumb interviews….I’m kidding.
What does Max teach us? First of all, never to use the word iPizzle. Second of all there is much more to ballet than the “giselles” and “swan lakes”. And thirdly, don’t let go of your technique!
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