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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Royal Danish Ballet's Andreas Kaas on exchange with National Ballet of Canada

Andreas Kaas

Dancer Exchange: Andreas Kaas
As part of a dancer exchange, Andreas Kaas from The Royal Danish Ballet is currently in Toronto for six weeks to rehearse and perform with The National Ballet of Canada. The NBOC interviewed him:
This is actually your third time in Toronto.
While I was a student at The Royal Danish Ballet School I came in 2009 for the AssemblĂ©e Internationale at Canada’s National Ballet School. It was really exciting for me to be exposed to dance at such a wide level. And I returned in 2012 to participate in The Tenth International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize.
What was it like to compete?
It was all incredible, especially because I danced with my best friend, Ida Praetorius. We’ve grown up together since we were seven years old and we had just joined the The Royal Danish Ballet four weeks before we were informed we would represent the company.  We were really excited to learn from the process of preparing for a big competition and were grateful for the experience, but as the youngest competitors we thought there would be no chance of winning. Furthermore I sprained my foot in rehearsal two days before the competition. Thankfully I received physical therapy from the National Ballet’s practitioners. The night of the competition there was so much adrenalin in my body that I couldn’t feel any pain. Ida and I decided that we would simply enjoy our experience on stage together and mostly focus on the connection between us.
And you won!
The choreographer of our modern piece, Alessandro Sousa Pereira, was announced as the winner of the choreographic prize and we were thrilled that his piece was recognized. Then Ida was announced as the female winner and I was overwhelmed with happiness that my best friend won.
I figured that three members of one company wouldn’t win, but it was a great feeling to hear my name called and to hear the cheering from the audience and from the other dancers and directors on stage with us.
I just celebrated the two year anniversary of that great night with fellow competitor Brendan Saye last week.

Bruhn Competition
What are you hoping to gain out of this dancer exchange?
It was amazing to be invited by Karen Kain to dance with The National Ballet of Canada, but also a little scary. Everything is so familiar and comfortable at home and I miss my colleagues who I work with every day. But it is a great experience to have new challenges, to see how a different company works and to learn from the great teachers and dancers here. I hope to return home with some new perspectives.
Is there a Nutcracker tradition in Denmark?
There is! We do Balanchine’s Nutcracker every second year, alternating with August Bournonville’s A Folk Tale, which is taking place this year. I’m impressed with James Kudelka’s version – it’s very beautiful and there is a lot of dancing for the entire company. For me it’s fun to dance to some of the music that I find most beautiful in The Nutcracker but are parts that are danced only by women in other versions. I never thought I’d get an opportunity to dance to these parts.
What are you dancing?

I’m part of a Flower couple, I’m dancing in the Arabian section and I dance as an Icicle in the Snow Trio.
How are rehearsals going so far?
A little bit overwhelming to learn three parts in a very short time! I’m trying to get the steps and find the musicality during run-throughs. It’s pushing me to learn fast. I’m relying on the support of the other dancers who are helping me along so I don’t look too bad or get too far out of place. Give me a couple more days and I’ll have it down!

The Nutcracker
is onstage December 13 — January 3.

You can see Andreas dancing a pas de deux from John Neumeier's Lady of the Camellias here  (starting at 34:30).

Andreas Kaas. Photo courtesy of The Royal Danish Ballet.
Alessandro Sousa Pereira, Ida Praetorius and Andreas Kaas of The Royal Danish Ballet, winners of The Tenth International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

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