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Patricia Zhou: "The feeling of dancing is like being taken to another world"

The former dancer of the Staatsballet Berlin, Patricia Zhou, tells us about her life in Los Angeles, the features of Russian ballet, her YouTube vlog and the difficulties every artist has to overcome on their road to success.

Where are you living and dancing at the moment? On your Instagram page it is said that you left the Berlin State Ballet. What are the reasons for this decision?

I live in Los Angeles and am currently dancing with Benjamin Millepied’s company “L.A. Dance Project”. I actually left the Staatballett because I was offered a great opportunity at LADP to challenge myself and work on different kinds of dance. I’d already been with the Staatsballett for 5 years and had danced most of the repertoire. I felt like I needed a change, and LADP was offering me just that.

Could you tell us about your LA Dance Project? Why is it so important to you?

So, L.A. Dance Project is a group of 11 dancers at the moment. It’s a pretty unique company because there’s such a mix of modern and classical dancers that you don’t see in many places. There’s an emphasis on creating new works, and exploring movement and space in different ways that is really refreshing and exciting to work on. I think it’s really important because it’s of the time, and I think it’s much more relatable for the audience of today.

You graduated from the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. What peculiarities of Russian style of teaching and Russian ballet style can you think of?

There’s definitely an emphasis on épaulement. That along with the breadth of the porte de bras and the adagio movement quality are probably my favorite things about Russian ballet. I think that’s why I prefer moving in an adagio manner to this day.

You have already worked and lived in various countries. Is it difficult to get accustomed to new cultures and new places of living? Or is it just a fun? What is your favourite country you have worked in? Why?

It is difficult to work and live in new places, especially when you don’t know the language. I moved to London by myself when I was 17, and that was hard. Of course, there was no language barrier, but getting used to living by myself and not knowing anyone in the city wasn’t easy. I find that when you move, it can be fun at the beginning to explore, but it usually takes at least a year to be comfortable where you live. I loved living in both London and Berlin (where I worked before moving to L.A.), but I really miss Berlin. I think because I was there for five years it really felt like home to me. I also still have a lot of friends there, so I hope to be able to visit them soon.

Who are your favourite choreographers and why?

I love Balanchine’s musicality and athleticism as well as the extremeness of movement that Forsythe is known for. I was also lucky that I got to work with Nacho Duato for three years. There’s something very organic about his movement. I love dancing his works.

What ballets would you like to dance?

My dream is to dance Tatiana in “Onegin” one day. The music and choreography are so beautiful, and I would love the chance to be that dramatic on stage. I also love Giselle – also for the drama (acting on stage is probably my favorite part about performing).

Giselle - Pas De Deux , Patricia Zhou and Anton Korsakov

What do you consider the proudest moment in your dance career so far?

I guess the proudest moment of my career thus far would be dancing Nacho Duato’s “Herrumbre”. It was my first lead role, and I couldn’t believe I’d been chosen to dance the premiere. I think working on that piece really pushed me to explore expressing emotions such as embarrassment and fear – emotions I’d never gotten to express on stage before. I always loved dancing that piece, even though it gave me bruises everywhere.

Nacho Duato's Herrumbre - Patricia Zhou & Arman Grigoryan

What is the most difficult thing about ballet?

The discipline that carries over in to all aspects of life.

What things do you enjoy most doing ballet?

The feeling of dancing, especially on stage. It’s like being taken to another world.

Why is ballet so popular nowadays?

I wouldn’t say that it is… Although it has gotten much more media attention in the past few years. I definitely think the movie “Black Swan” had something to do with it.

Do you enjoy being a ballet dancer?

Yes. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s a tough career for sure, and there are many ups and downs, but I love to dance, and it’s amazing to be able to do what I love every day.

What is your favourite food? Do you keep a diet?

I guess my favorite food would be anything dairy. Whether that’s ice cream or cheese I can’t decide. I usually follow a “Ketogenic diet”, a high-fat, low-carb diet, because it is great for energy levels and focus. The only downside is that it is pretty restrictive, so I end up cooking at home a lot, which is hard when I’m tired.

What do you usually do in your free time?

To be honest, I really don’t have much free time. I’m kept pretty busy at work, and when I’m not at work, I’m working on video content or preparing for the launch of my new leotard line –coming in 2018. I do try to find some time before bed to watch an episode of “Game of Thrones”, but it usually doesn’t happen.

You have a vlog on YouTube. Why did you decide to start it? Do you think it is important to communicate with your fans via social networks?

I started my vlog because I wanted to document my journey of moving and changing companies. I thought it would be a great way to share my experiences with friends, family, and even young professionals looking for an inside view at what it’s like to be a professional dancer. I definitely think it’s great to communicate via social media. I wish it had been around when I was a student. It’s wonderful to be able to see what ballerinas all over the world are posting, and to see that they’re all really just human beings!

What is your dream? What are your goals for the next 10 years?

I would love to be able to dance as many dramatic and acting roles as possible over my career. I think it is such a fun challenge to get to portray different characters and study different roles. Hopefully, over the next 10 years I will get the chance to dance in lots of different countries and work on lots of different styles of dance as well.

Фотографии Irene Wissel


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