Rhys Kosakowski, Black or White Swan?
George Borodin once said, “Ballet is not technique, but a way of expression that comes more closely to the inner language of man than any other.” Dancer Rhys Kosakowski shares with us the key words of such inner language, his way of expressing himself through the art of dancing. A story of passion, training and sacrifices since a very young age… a plié at a time…
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 15th issue of ODDA Magazine.
You started dancing at a very early age. What are the challenges of a child dancer versus an adult dancer?
As a child dancer, I definitely found myself a lot more carefree and relaxed in my dancing and training, and would be a lot less hard on myself compared to now, being an adult. Being in a ballet company, I can easily say there are dancers that I look up to and that are being cast the same roles I aspire to dance. So I’m much stricter and working hard to improve myself.
What is your training schedule? Did you ever feel the need to push your physical and/or intellectual boundaries while training or performing? Does the Black Swan movie reflect to any extent your routine… or maybe a certain obsession for perfection?
I take three ballet classes a week. I do hot yoga once or twice a week and I work out and stretch five times a week. I always push myself and try never to settle. I never try to become complacent in my training and always push myself with new work. The Black Swan movie definitely brought out the true aspects and dramas of the ballet world in a very unrealistic, intense way. But I can easily relate to striving for perfection and other emotions in the movie.
Have you ever noticed any kind of cliché from your audience, fans or people in general (for instance, taking for granted that you are gay because you are a dancer…)? How do you tackle prejudice and imposed stereotypes?
I never really experienced it as a professional dancer, although the occasional rude homophobic comments on my Instagram do pop up. So, I just try to completely shut out all of that negativity and ignore it.
Have you ever experienced that people wanted to take advantage of you in any sense? How did you protect yourself?
Fortunately, I have never experienced being taken advantage of on a serious level, of course there are people who want to be my friend for the wrong reasons, that is why I’m very careful with who I call my close friends. But I’ve always maintained my best interest when it comes to friends and work.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you made for dancing? Do you feel it was rewarded? Do you manage to conciliate your profession with your personal life or is there an inevitable constant conflict?
Leaving my home in Australia to dance full-time in America is without a doubt my biggest sacrifice. But I am so glad I did because the people I met and danced with, the training and the traveling I did was so worth it.
What has been the greatest performance of your career and what are the reasons for your choice?
I have two really special performances that I will always find special. Cacti by Alexander Ekman. I love this piece because it had very intricate choreography and a style of dance I have never seen before. It was challenging to learn, but very rewarding to perform. And the second would be Wings of Wax, by Jiri Kylian. The dancer who was performing the role I was understudying for got injured two days before and I danced opening night. The music is so beautifully chilling and the pas de deux work is amazing.
Do you ever imagine in the future the possibility of quitting said sport? What are your thoughts or plans in the long time?
I think I will always be an artist. Dancing is a part of me now and always will be. But yes, there will come a time later on when I will retire, but I would love to either do fashion, or production and also get back into Musical theatre.
In which theater would you love to perform and which show?
A dream of mine would be to perform a William Forsythe ballet opening night at the Paris Opera Ballet theatre.
How relevant is the acting component of your performance? How do you train or improve that part?
The acting side of classical ballet is never really taught at ballet school or even in the company. There is quite a bit of coaching and leading with the acting components of all Classical ballets but, when you are in a company, you usually watch and learn from the people around you and apply it to your own character.
Federica Pantana is a lawyer, freelance writer and poet based in New York City. She has been writing poetry since the age of eight. Her first collection of poems (in Italian and English) is available on Amazon Kindle. Another collection of her most recent poetry is in the making. In the past few years, she has been contributing to ODDA Magazine and other fashion magazines. In light of her interest for fashion writing and photography, she is currently working on a fashion & art photography magazine that will be released in early 2018.
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