Dance Teacher: On “DWTS,” you work with people who have never set foot in a dance studio before. How do you get them to loosen up and keep an open mind?
Tony Dovolani: The first thing I explain is that walking is dancing. Every single person has a rhythm in his or her body, because it takes coordination to walk. It’s just putting one foot in front of the other, but I try to remove the expectation that they should be able to do it right away. A child takes about a year and a half before she can put one foot in front of the other. Even if she learns to walk at nine months, she’s still waddling back and forth! It takes time, but I 100-percent believe that anyone can learn how to dance, and I actually think it’s the ones who have a hard time learning things in the beginning that tend to stick it out and be a little bit more determined.
DT: Do you think it’s important for teachers to continue their own educations?
TD: Oh, absolutely. Some people stop taking lessons because they think they’re masters. In my opinion, the moment you consider yourself a “master,” you should stop dancing completely because you must know it all! I retired from competing about four years ago, and I think I’ve had more lessons after I retired than before. This is my passion; it’s not my job.
DT: Who do you learn the most from?
TD: I learn from every dancer that I’ve ever watched. I learn from other teachers, from my students, and I ask them all questions. I’m not afraid to tell them I don’t know something. I want to explore their minds and find out how they would approach something. I think people are way too eager to talk about how they do things and not enough to learn from other people. I also go to Broadway Dance Center in NYC, to Alvin Ailey, and I go watch New York City Ballet quite often—I think they’re phenomenal. Pretty much anything that has to do with dance, I’m there.
6/27/14 - If age someday grounds my feet and wilts my port de bras, what vestige of the old life will be left? The signs that I was a dancer will gradually fade like stripes on a beach towel. Even my knowledge of the art form, reaped in sweat over decades, could be lost over time.
But no matter how much I change after I exit the stage—following a final performance on July 3, I amretiring from ABT after nineteen years—or if I flee my old gig to take up long-haul trucking or chicken farming, I’ll be tied to the dance community. It’s like the mafia: There’s really only one way out. And ballet has been good to me. In particular, it catalyzed my closest friendships. Long after my memories of performing dim and my muscles go to mush, the bonds will endure.
6/2/14 - For me, “890” has also served as a chrysalis. I first arrived as an eleven-year-old ballet student; at eighteen, it became my primary place of work. During my tenure there, I metamorphosed from kid to man—learned my craft, forged friendships, fell in love. Earlier this month, intoxicated on endorphins and vodka, I walked out of that unconventional office for the last time. At the end of this season, at the age of 37, I’ll be retiring from ABT. My final performance is on July 3 at the Metropolitan Opera House.
Today is Sascha Radetsky’s last day with ABT. Thank you for your friendship and artistry!!! Here he is with his gorgeous wife @stellaabreradetsky love you both!! You can catch him one last time in Coppelia tonight!!