Ballet Stars

Alban Lendorf on Being Part of The Royal Danish Ballet & American Ballet Theatre (Plus, His Favorite Role at ABT)

Lendorf in Don Quixote. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy ABT.

What do you enjoy most: performing, or being in the studio?
The moment right after performing. It's never a perfect show, but however you feel about it, there is a satisfaction, a sense of fulfillment.

What qualities do you admire most in other dancers?
Openness. We're all afraid of being ourselves: Like actors and singers, you're being judged all the time, and you know you're being judged. You need to let go and try to be honest with yourself, because that's what appeals most to the audience and other dancers.


Joining American Ballet Theatre was a big leap. What was the attraction?
ABT is an extremely attractive company. I guested there a few times, and I really liked the way they were working. Also, on a personal level, I really wanted to spread my wings and fly, to move away to another country.

What was RDB artistic director Nikolaj Hübbe's reaction when you told him?
He'd already told me years earlier, when we went on tour to the States: One day, if you want to leave and go here, it's okay. He gave me his blessing because he knows, more than anyone—he also went to New York to dance. He saw that what is good for me is good for Danish ballet.

Lendorf in 'Le Corsaire.' Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy ABT.

Are the audiences different in New York and in Denmark?
In New York, they can get very excited, which is really fun. It's more polite in Denmark: You're almost not allowed to clap, because people will turn around and shush you. As a dancer onstage, if people are applauding you, even if it's in the middle of a variation, they're still expressing gratitude or excitement, so I welcome it.

In rehearsal, are you more intense or relaxed?
I love to give everything in rehearsal—sometimes the coaches have to tell me to calm down because I don't need to do my variation full-out four times. I've learned lately that when you have seven hours of rehearsals, you also need to trust that you're a good dancer, to trust your technique.

Lendorf and Copeland in 'Giselle.' Photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy ABT.

What's your favorite ballet so far with ABT?
I think Giselle, because I'd never done Albrecht before. It's one of the most iconic roles, and working with Kevin McKenzie and Irina Kolpakova was a big milestone for me. I got to dance with Misty Copeland, who was also learning it for the first time, so we had that experience together.

What would you be if you weren't a dancer?
Probably an actor or a pianist. I've loved the piano since I was 4. It was actually my piano teacher's idea to try dance because I needed to learn how to play a waltz by Chopin!

What's your favorite thing to cook?
I try to bake Danish rye bread— you can get rye bread here, but it's really boring and gray! In Denmark you get this really cool version with a lot of seeds, which I try to re-create.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

Keep reading... Show less
The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

Keep reading... Show less