Maybe the fact that Salim Gauwloos appreciated Julian’s ballet technique was one of the reasons Julian enjoyed dancing with him in New York. Julian had just completed the six-week American Ballet Summer Intensive and had improved considerably during that time. Of course, he had a sound foundation in ballet after three years at Ballet San Jose School, a year at TDC and the seven years of ballet he’d taken prior to that. Slam noticed him, though, and asked him to help demonstrate along with his helper.
We both took note when the first class was over as Salim was about to leave the studio. Just before he turned to walk out the door he said to the class, “It wouldn’t hurt any of you to take a ballet class once in a while.”
So, I assume taking ballet class and getting a good grasp of the basics of ballet technique would be one thing Salim would recommend if a young man or boy wants to become a good dancer.
In addition to the questions and answers I’ve already posted here and here, I did specifically ask Salim what it takes for young male dancers to succeed. I also asked two addition questions. Here are his final answers.
1. What three things do young male dancers need to know about succeeding in the dance world?
Spend as much as possible time in the dance studio. Even if you’re tired, you can never spend enough time in the studio.
Keep taking classes.
Be strong, and be honest with yourself. Learn how to work by yourself even if the teacher doesn’t pay any attention to you. And have a voice, but be respectful.
And last, but not least, this is for the parents: Don’t be so involved.
I’ve realized lately that parents get way too involved. If you’re a parent and your child is training to become a dancer, your only responsibility is to make sure your child is in a safe environment and eats a healthy diet. The rest other things parents get involved in are unnecessary and, in the long run, only hurts your child. In my years in the dance world, I have seen many talented kids burn out and leave the dance world because of parents being too involved.
2. For those boys who want to be choreographers, what advice would you offer them?
It’s a long progress, and you have to be patient. I started making up dances when I was six years old in summer camp. It was me and a lot of girls. (lol)
The more you do it—and again the more time you spend in the studio—the better you get at it and the more comfortable you get with it.
I remember in the beginning you feel so insecure, and you prepare everything before you go in the studio with the dancers. But the more you create, the more relaxed you get. Now I go in the studio and just do it on the spot. Also very important is that you have to be honest with yourself, and you have to be able to take criticism. Not everybody is a choreographer, just because you’re a good dancer and teacher doesn’t mean you’re a choreographer.
3. You are such a versatile dancer and dance professional. From your unique perspective of having danced in the world of “pop music,” on Broadway, and in classical ballet, as well as choreographing ballets, what is the most important thing a young male dancer must do to succeed in any of these areas of dance?
My advice would be to be the best you can be. Remember your only competition is yourself.
Like any other industry these days, the dance world is very political. My motto is and always has been, “Be so good at what you do that they have no excuse not to hire you.”
I wrote a note to Salim asking him if he had any last words of wisdom. He wrote back, “Read more and watch less TV.” What a great role model for our boys! Really. He is a great person to mentor them. If you ever have a chance to have your sons dance with Salim, do so! You won’t regret it. Neither will they.
For more information on Salim Gauwloos, click here.