Interview with Verity Jacobsen, one of Ballet Prejlocaj’s dancer

Anyone who has seen one of Ballet Preljocaj’s previous performances is sure to be left with a lasting impression of stunning storytelling counterbalanced with demanding choreography that leaves the audience as breathless as the dancers.

Created in 2016 and based on a traditional and fantastical Chinese tale, La Fresque (The Painting on the Wall) is “infused with sensual beauty.”

The fantasy piece tells the story of a man who falls in love with a woman painted on a fresco… and steps into the wall to join her in the painting.

Many of you dance because vous aimez tout simplement danser. But, have you ever dreamed that dancing could be your livelihood someday? Alliance Française Mpls/St Paul is pleased to share with you a few words from Verity Jacobsen, one of Ballet Prejlocaj’s dancers.

And if you would like to attend this incredible performance, get your tickets to meet members of a world-renowned French dance company while enjoying a drink and hors d’oeuvres before this hypnotic ballet on March 30 at Northrop!

So, now grab a seat and see what happens behind the scenes in a professional ballerina’s life!

Photo credit: Jean-Claude Carbonne

Why did you want to be a ballet dancer?

Dance is something that I have know from a young age; it’s in the way I walk and the way I speak. So when my mother and my dance teacher asked me if this is what I would like to do for a living I said yes without hesitation. Even though the life of a dancer can be very demanding physically and mentally the reward of performing, creating and excelling surpasses these « negative » attributes.

What has been the most difficult thing to overcome?

Apart from injury I would say that it’s quite difficult to be away from my family. It’s not often a dancer can be lucky enough to find a dance job in their home town. We are constantly moving and searching for opportunities. Which means we tend to have to leave our families and friends while we do this.

How do you prepare for the Ballet Preljocaj?

Angelin Preljocaj has a vast array of repertoire, all of them being completely different to each other, we really have to be smart in how we prepare ourselves mentally and physically. For instance La Fresque is a storytelling ballet so we need to be in our characters as well as physically warm in our bodies as this dance is very dynamic. Other shows may require us to be prepared physically for floor work, jumping or even pointe work!

How did you audition for the company?

I auditioned for the Ballet Preljocaj 6 years ago in Paris then 4 years ago I received a full time contract with the company.

What do your days look like?

We start every day at 10:30 until 12 with either a classical ballet class or a contemporary dance class. It is important that we train in both styles of dance as this company requires us to be versatile. From 12:15 until 14:00 we have rehearsals then we pause for one hour so we can refuel our bodies then back to rehearsal from 15:00 to 18:00. This kind of a day is a normal day for us. Then when we are on tour and performing, we may work from 14:00 until 22:00. It’s important for us to to take care of ourselves during these days where we change from rehearsing during the day to performing in the evening.

What does it takes to perform in this ballet and to translate the Chinese tale?

First we need to understand the story and then most importantly to understand Angelin’s vision as sometimes he may not stick to the exact story line. For me personally I love to tell a story so this kind of a show really speaks to me.

What valuable lessons have you learned? What advice were you given?

To be honest with your emotions and gestures that you give while performing as an audience knows when you are not genuine and this can make a big difference to a storytelling ballet as well as abstract ballets too.

What advice do you have for young dancers?

Make sure you know why you dance. An honest dancer who is passionate about their craft is the most interesting and captivating dancer for me regardless of technique…. although technique is important 🙂

Complete the sentence…

Dance is: my cup of tea.

Fun facts about Ballet Preljocaj?

We can perform around 150 shows per season!!

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Alliance Française Mpls/St Paul
227 Colfax Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55405

Tel: 612 332 0436

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