I’m sure that everybody who loves and value ballet knows our guest Alexei Kremniev. World’s famous dancer and choreographer, winner of multiple prizes in art and loving husband and father at the same time.
Now, after they finished their contract with Joffrey Ballet, Alexei and his wife Anna are enjoying the parenthood and looking forward to open their own dance studio. This and more you will find in today’s interview.
Alexei, I know that when you were a kid you were doing figure skating and play soccer. Why would you prefer ballet to soccer? What caught your attention?
I was skating with Pahomova and Gorshkov since I was 4 years old, they were skating as a couple at that time. And I was doing it till Pahomova died, that’s when I was 9. At that time my parents were deciding on where to send me next. And since the ballet in Russia historically was prestige, they didn’t have any questions and at age of 10 I took the first ballet class and I decided to take it serious.
What caught my attention? First, that was prestige. Second, back in USSR that could free me from army. Especially, that was Afgan war at that time and my parents were very worry about me. The ballet gave me an opportunity to go abroad on tour. Plus, that was a good income. After I came back from Japan to Moscow I could live fine for a year and a half or could afford to buy a piece of land.
Ballet is a lot of persistence and work. What gives you inspiration and motivates you to move forward?
First of all, it is a habit. Habit that formed since I was skating at CSKA School. We woke up at 5:30 a.m. because the morning training started at 6:30 a.m. After that we went to school and after school there was an evening training at 6:30 p.m. and finished at 9-10 p.m. It was like that daily. And if you don’t exercise daily your muscles are changing, you lose tonus. I used to be busy whole day since I was a kid so that’s become a habit that I carry with me my whole life.
Which roles did you used to play? Which are you favorites and why?
I performed all classic repertoire- “Swan Lake”, “Nutcracker”, “Carmen”, “Korsar”, “Giselle”, “Madam Butterfly”…to point out one is very difficult. For some time, I thought that my favorite was Albert from “Giselle”. Each play has different calisthenics and music… You live through every role you play and each one is beautiful.
Do you have an idol in ballet? Who inspired you all these years?
Michail Barishnikov. I remember, we used to watch his performances on tapes that was copied 10 times. I was inspired by his energy, plastic and character all the time. Despite of his age, he stays a leader in dance, every time bringing something new and extraordinary in it.
How long have you been in Chicago?
We moved to Chicago in 2008. Joffrey Ballet offered me to direct the ballet school where, at that moment, were no students yet. Now there are 700 students study at school, Trainee program and Joffrey Studio Company are founded.
On Sunday (06.06.2016) we stopped working with Joffrey Ballet and want to open our own studio. Put all efforts to our own future.
Are you teaching now? Or teaching and dancing?
Frankly speaking, we are on vacation now (laughing). I didn’t dance for the last 12 years. Only in plays that I direct and only dramatic roles with no jumps.
What was the brightest thing in the ballet career?
Contentment from the performed plays. I never liked the time before the play, I was nervous all the time. I loved the training time or the time right after play. And I never could watch recorded copy of my play. The moment of glory should pass quickly and you have to return to work on yourself.
What’s your plan for the future?
You know, I never had a hobby. Ballet was always my hobby and my job at the same time. It took all my time and there was no time for any hobby. But I always wanted to have one (laughing). Right now all our plans are about opening our ballet center; we spent a lot of time and energy for other companies and now we want to spend it for our own company.
How did your life change after you have your son?
How did it changed? I sleep less (laughing). I didn’t sleep at all until he became 2 so it is better now. I figured out that everything is relative: to have a kid is very calming and makes you to think that your care and energy is very important for someone and that someone in a big need of it.
Does your son have abilities to ballet?
Unfortunately, yes (laughing). He is very gifted- legs are strong, he has plastic and wonderful ear for music. If he grows up and decides that he wants it then he is good to go. For right now he goes to gymnastics.
What is your secret for success?
There is two types of success: art success and career success. Of course, you suppose to have your own ideology but you have to have ability to listen to other people and be flexible too. I have a good example of it: you have to be a car, not a train. A train goes on a rail, but a car can always turn or pass over.
You need to know how to take a quick decision. And most important is to study, study and study. At age of 50 you might think that you are the smartest one, but there is always who can be more persistent than you. Try, study and always move forward.
What would you suggest to our readers on their way to pursue a dream?
I recall a parable about a cat and a mouse. A mouse was sitting and dreaming about beauty and behind a mouse there was a cat who was dreaming about eating (laughing). Everybody has a different dreams. It is very pleasant to dream, but you have to do it realistically. A dream should followed by a business-plan. A dream by itself means nothing if you don’t do anything to make it happen.
You can find more about future studio and its founders at http://www.aacenterfordance.org