Name: Alexander Hille
Where are you from/ where are you based?
I was born and raised in Minnesota, USA, attended college in New York City and currently living and working in Montréal, QC.
Describe your profession.
Professional dancer, and aspiring creator/choreographer.
When did you start doing this and how did you get into it?
I started dancing around the age of eight, after trying about every sport you can think of and although I’m by nature a relatively competitive and athletic person, conventional sports are not something that really engaged me. I always had a lot of energy, and spent almost all of my time drawing and creating things.
Somehow, without making the conscious decision that dance was a great mix of artistry and athleticism, I said to my mom one day that “today I’m going to dance with Kara (my sister)”. At that time, she seemed to be having a lot of fun in her extracurricular activities and I still hadn’t found my niche.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day can mean a lot of things depending on whether or not we are on tour with the company. While in Montréal (where our rehearsals take place), I wake up around 7:45 am, have a light breakfast and make my way to the studio. After roughly 30 min (give or take) of physical manipulation, rolling out my muscles and some exercises to activate my body and mind. We take a ballet class from 10-11:15 am. From 11:30 am until 6 pm, we will rehearse whatever needs to be prepared for upcoming shows or tours and at other periods during the season we may also be in a creation process (this is the process of making a new ballet with an invited choreographer). While on tour, the list of checkpoints is similar with a different timeframe and of course with performances in the evenings.
What are the essentials tools you need for your craft?
It’s an interesting question because as a dancer there is not much that we actually need to dance, but there are definitely things that help to create a sense of ritual and comfort. A space to work is fundamental and sometimes taken for granted. It is possible to dance anywhere depending on what is being asked of the artist, but for most of what I currently do, a studio with a marley floor (dance floor) is a necessity. After that, we have many physical tools, balls of various sizes and hardness, and a foam roller, are used by most dancers to release muscle tension and fascia. Elastic bands are used to strengthen and reinforce various muscles groups so that our bodies may stand up to the vigor of the work being asked of us. Mental and physical fortitude are also indispensable tools for a professional dancer, as well as the ability to confront oneself each day for better or worse. An outfit that makes me feel confident about how I exist in the space is also very important. One of my teachers said it best “when you look good you feel good, and when you feel good, you dance good.” She was right.
What is unique about what you do?
I suppose I would say the mix of athleticism and artistry, and how much of what we do isn’t quantifiable. Dance can evoke emotions for different reasons, for different people, and there is no meter that says that you got an “A”, or you didn’t reach your quota. I would say that being present in performance makes dance a unique art form. Although I’m sure that statement can apply to many other professions as well, but a non-present artist will be spotted by audiences whether consciously or unconsciously.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
It’s hard to say what the biggest misconception is about professional dance. I suppose it’s because (like many professions), if you don’t have a general understanding of it, there’s a lot to be misinterpreted. I think that a lot of people see dance portrayed in Hollywood films, and therefore whether consciously or unconsciously, use films that do include exaggerated themes as a reference point.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
I would tell young artists to be bold, receptive, humble, ambitious and to always see themselves as students. Don’t pretend to know anything! Maybe today what you thought you knew has changed but the fact that you think you know it, has created a barrier to learning/seeing. I have found that having goals is crucial to an artist’s advancement, and in the same breath, I would also say that that you are not obligated to achieve any of them. The beauty of working towards something whole heartedly, is that good things will somehow attract themselves to those who work and are curious, and have the discipline to keep going even when they feel that nothing is working. Often times that is where we have our greatest moments of perspective and clarity. Something I have learned in recent years, is that if you want to do something, find a way to make it happen. We do not need permission to attempt anything in our lives, and anything is indeed possible. Do not be scared to message people who are doing something that rings true to you, connecting with people, artistically or personally is one of the most beautiful gifts life has to offer.
Where can we look for you online or otherwise?
Alexander’s select: LEVIN – INK
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