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 dram