Cupcakes & Conversation with Sascha Radetsky, Soloist, American Ballet Theatre
When ABT toured to Sadlers Wells in London in February this year, Radetsky caught my eye during Programme 2 and I determined to interview him, though my schedule (interviewing Xiomara Reyes and Thomas Forster) and his rehearsals and subsequent commitments have meant that the interview has been some time in the making. But it’s been well worth the wait and I hope that you enjoy it !
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
My motivation (or lack thereof) to get up on a Monday morning is dictated by the day’s rehearsal schedule. If I have something fun and challenging to work on then I’m bustling bright-eyed around the kitchen making breakfast, but if I have a long, dull day of rehearsals to slog through then I tend to linger in my pajamas. If I’m writing something or working on something exciting outside of dance I’m also apt to wait until the last minute to head down to the studios. Of course, if I’m hurting or sore I’m less likely to tackle the day with a wink and a smile than if I’m feeling healthy and strong.
Why ballet ?
This is a question I attempted to answer in two articles, one for Newsweek and one for Dance Magazine. It’s a tough question that doesn’t inspire brevity, but I’ll give it a shot! Ballet can be a deeply rewarding, exhilarating, even rapturous union of athleticism, music and storytelling. It presents an ever-evolving physical, mental and spiritual challenge—a mind/body/soul workout. The intimacy of partnering fosters lifelong friendships, as do the daily rigors of class, rehearsal, performances and tours. It’s powerful, delicate, virtuosic, and beautiful. It’s painful, and frustratingly difficult to do well. And it’s great fun at times.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
We once performed at the ancient Herodes Atticus amphitheater, located at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens. In Jesus’s time, gladiators spilled blood upon that very stage. During a performance, I remember gazing up at the Parthenon glowing softly atop the hill, above it a crescent moon and emerging mantle of stars. I can’t imagine a more breathtaking, historically relevant, or glorious place to dance.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
At the moment I’m rehabbing from minor surgery and ABT is laid off for several weeks, so my daily routine is different than what it’s like during the rest of the year. A typical non-performance workday would begin with coffee and a hearty breakfast, followed by the subway commute downtown to ABT’s studios, where I’d either take company class or give myself a thorough warm-up. I’d then rehearse all day, squeeze lunch in at some point, then do a quick but furious ten or fifteen minute CrossFit-styled workout. In the evening, I’d have dinner with Stella and/or friends, do some homework or reading, and before bed watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
For a time I tried meditating before shows, but ultimately I found it didn’t make any difference. Plus, the more elaborate my pre-show ritual became the more difficult it was to sustain over a long season. So now I try to just whittle it down to the essentials: a quiet moment to lie down and relax, a good warm-up, a cup of coffee.
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2011 ?
In the Upper Room.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Homer, Miyamoto Musashi, Hugh Glass, Crazy Horse, Walt Whitman and Pablo Neruda. But more than anyone, my father.
What would surprise people about you ?
I’m a left-leaning, politically progressive gun owner.
Who inspired you to dance ?
How would someone else describe you ?
What is your best piece of advice ?
Nothing ventured nothing gained.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Albrecht in Giselle. The steps in the ballet aren’t exceedingly difficult-nor is the partnering-but the character is so complex and conflicted that portraying him is an all-consuming, exhausting, exhilarating experience.
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?
I don’t know, depends on the choreography and style of the piece, the music, the cast, the purpose.
A phrase I use far too often is …
“Another round? Sure, why not…”
Who would play you in the film of your life ?
Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges, Steve McQueen or Denzel Washington (in their younger years).
What is your favourite quote?
Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star. (Henry David Thoreau, from the end of Walden)
What’s on your iPod ?
Blues, jazz, soul, classic rock, hard rock, rockabilly, old country, a bit of folk and bluegrass, hip hop, and classical.
Who would you most like to dance for, and why?
Family and friends, I suppose.
What makes you a good dance partner ?
I like to think that I put my partner’s aesthetics, comfort and wellbeing ahead of my own. Doing the pas de deux well is more important to me than doing the solo well.
Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about ?
I’ve studied primitive skills – fire making without matches, shelter-building, wild edible and medicinal plants, bow-making, tracking, etc.
Describe yourself in just three words.
Miles to go.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year ?
Healthy and challenged.
Find out more about CrossFit
Watch Sascha’s interview with Dancepulp.com
Watch Sascha in the movie Center Stage