Getting Into Character at ABT

Ever wonder how American Ballet Theatre dancers get into character? In the company’s upcoming season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, they'll perform a variety of character roles, from pirates in Le Corsaire to temple dancers in La Bayadère. On April 29 and 30, the Guggenheim museum’s Works & Process program will host  “A Cast of Characters,” which will feature a conversation with ABT's creative team and performances by some of its dancers, including Misty Copeland, Hee Seo, Cory Stearns and Roman Zhurbin. (Though the show is sold out, you can still watch the the livestream: www.ustream.tv/worksandprocess.)

ABT corps member Roman Zhurbin talked to Pointe about how he tackles different character roles.

What characters will you be dancing this season?
I will perform the Duke in Giselle, the High Brahman in La Bayadère, one of the Lovers in The Dream, the Pasha in Le Corsaire, Prince Gremin in Onegin, Von Rothbart in Swan Lake, Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet and Gavrylich in The Bright Stream.

How do you get into character?
I usually try to get an image or picture of that character in my head and relate it to something I've seen or to a person that fits a trait of that character. Then I work on the walk and posture. After that I add little details that shape the character.

What does participating in "Works & Process" mean to you?
It’s a select audience that comes to see the show. It's really special to connect and share your experience with them.