Danc­ing with a Star

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Friedemann Vogel is a world-renowned bal­let dancer who has per­formed in front of thou­sands, but to­day his only au­di­ence is a cam­era that’s cap­tur­ing his ev­ery grace­ful move­ment. In town to reprise the tit­u­lar role of Romeo in the John Cranko-chore­ographed re-telling of Romeo & Juliet,Vogel’s tal­ent shines through even when he’s off­stage.As he prances around the photo stu­dio like a bird soar­ing through the skies, the ends of a trench coat trail­ing in his wake, ev­ery el­e­gantly-ex­e­cuted pointe, pirou­ette and flex of his sinewy mus­cles is mes­meris­ing to watch. With his hand­some good looks and pierc­ing gaze,Vogel was des­tined to be a dancer. Born in Stuttgart, Ger­many, the 38-yearold comes from a fam­ily of five brothers whose pas­sion for art flows through their veins.“It was very nat­u­ral for me to pur­sue some­thing in the field. One of my brothers is also a dancer, so my par­ents didn’t find it un­usual at all that I’d even­tu­ally walk the same path,” he adds.

After a child­hood spent putting up im­promptu per­for­mances for his par­ents, the young Vogel showed so much prom­ise that he landed a cov­eted spot in the Princess Grace Academy of Clas­si­cal Dance in Monte Carlo. Since then,Vogel has taken home top ac­co­lades at many pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional bal­let com­pe­ti­tions such as the Prix de Lau­sanne and the Prix de Lux­em­bourg. His big­gest achievement thus far? His in­duc­tion into the fa­mous Stuttgart Bal­let in 1998, where he proved his met­tle and was pro­moted to prin­ci­pal dancer in just a few short years.

What is it that you love most about bal­let?

I like how bal­let al­lows you to move and ex­press your­self with your body. I was a child who had to con­stantly move. I couldn’t sit still in one place to read. If you do bal­let ev­ery day pro­fes­sion­ally, it be­comes some­thing like bread and wa­ter.When I’m on hol­i­day for two weeks and I don’t do bal­let, I find my body need­ing it. The body hurts more when I stop than when I train.

Can you re­mem­ber the first time you stood on stage?

When I was lit­tle, I’d wear my cos­tumes and put on many shows for my par­ents. How­ever, the first time I took to the stage was in bal­let school. I was su­per ex­cited to fi­nally get the op­por­tu­nity to per­form.When you’re a child, you don’t think about the con­se­quences—you just go out there and have fun. I al­ways try to re­mem­ber that and think about the essence of dance.The best per­for­mances I’ve had were the ones where I dove right into the mu­sic. Most of the time, the mu­sic comes from a live orches­tra. When ev­ery­thing comes to­gether, it’s like a mir­a­cle; an ad­dic­tion. That’s the hard part if you were to stop bal­let; when the time comes, that’s the part that dancers will miss.

What role do you think dance plays in the world?

I think it plays a very im­por­tant role. I be­lieve that ev­ery­one who wants to dance will find a way to do so. Pro­fes­sional or not, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter be­cause dance isn’t al­ways about per­form­ing for other peo­ple. Dance is about self-ex­pres­sion and find­ing that con­nec­tion. It is not bounded by lan­guage or ge­og­ra­phy.

Do you think tal­ent is born or can it be nur­tured?

Tal­ent is some­thing that can­not be de­scribed. I think it comes from a place of love.When you love some­thing so much, you’re deeply into it. I be­lieve that there’s a strong power some­where that guides you.You have to be open-minded about where that takes you.

What’s next for you?

Be­sides con­tin­u­ing to dance, I want to sup­port young dancers out there who don’t have the means to pur­sue their in­ter­ests. My par­ents couldn’t af­ford the best ed­u­ca­tion for me, but I was lucky I got a schol­ar­ship from my academy in Monte Carlo.As such, I have set up a foun­da­tion to sup­port dancers, chore­og­ra­phers or any­one who wants to ex­press them­selves through dance. I want to give them the op­por­tu­nity to chase their dreams—not just in bal­let, but other dance scenes as well. It is so im­por­tant for our cul­ture.

If a bal­let per­for­mance was made about your life, what would it be like?

There would be a lot of emo­tions in this per­for­mance, from hap­pi­ness to self-doubt, and a lot of ups and downs. But you’ll never know where life takes you. I just hope it won’t be a dra­matic end­ing!

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