Recently Julian mentioned to his father that he felt he’d always ended up at the right place at the right time in his career. In other words, somehow we made the right studio, summer intensive or teacher choices at the right time in his career. He sees that now in the effects on his dancing, in how his skill and talent is perceived by choreographers, in how he is progressing in his job, and even in the connections between some of the people with whom he comes into contact.
So, how did that happen? Were we lucky? Did we know what we were doing and make excellent choices because we were just so smart?
In some cases, we were lucky. In other cases, we did make good choices based on the information we possessed at the time. And in almost every case, I believe there was a synchronicity to the situation and a good bit of decision making based on intuition.
Sometimes you just know something is right for your dancin’ boy.
Decisions are a Team Effort
Julian didn’t make his own decisions about where to dance and with whom until he was in high school. He helped us make the decisions for sure, and his opinions were always important to the process. As his parents, however, we often knew when it was time for him to make a change, such as to a new studio, and we had some strong opinions about what was good for him.
For example, we knew when Julian needed to leave his performing company and studio and focus on technique. We could see his technique declining. We discussed it with Julian, he agreed, although he was unhappy to leave the studio. We made the change to Ballet San Jose School (BSJS), but we supplemented those classes with tap and jazz and even some break dancing. We kept Julian’s interests in mind, and followed a path that felt right to us—one that continued to give him a well-rounded dance education.
When the ballet mistress at BSJS told us Julian should not take jazz or tap, we disagreed, especially when she said jazz would not make him a stronger ballet dancer. My husband and I began to feel it was time for another change.
The Right Opportunity Presents Itself
That’s when I happened to sit next Ryan Ramirez’ (So You Think You Can Dance) mother at a recital (for the school that offered that jazz class). We got to talking about where Ryan had studied dance, and she mentioned Teen Dance Company (TDC), which is now called Conservatory for Contemporary Dance Arts (CCDA). My husband had already researched TDC a bit, but her glowing report convinced us Julian should audition, which he did. We took him out of BSJS and enrolled him at TDC . There he got to do ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, modern, and hip hop, although the focus was on contemporary ballet.
That experience not only gave him experience auditioning but also provided three years of solid contemporary ballet experience. This was later supported by the intensives he took at Complexions. If it were not for this early contemporary work, and our decision to change studios, Julian now might not get to dance the numerous roles he is given at SemperOper, many of which are contemporary. This one decision alone made a huge difference in Julian’s career.
When Julian decided he wanted to take a ballet summer intensive, we supported that, and it led him to American Ballet Theater (ABT). While we were in NYC the first year, I happened to notice a class offered by Desmond Richardson. I don’t remember how I knew about Desmond…probably from SYTYCD. I registered him, and Desmond then invited Julian to his intensive. The second summer that Julian attended the Complexions intensive, Richardson’s and Dwight Rhoden’s advice convinced Julian, my husband, and I that it was time for Julian to leave TDC and enter a ballet school. He had outgrown TDC and needed more ballet technique.
After three summers at ABT and one at SAB, Julian had made a decision of his own. He wanted to focus only on ballet. He wanted to become a ballet boy. So the next move seemed obvious—find a ballet school.
We just happened to know a young male dancer from ABT who had cleaned up his technique at City Ballet School in San Francisco. So we went to check it out. It felt right to us. We wanted a small school that would give him personal attention. That year at City made enough difference in Julian’s technique that he got into the summer intensive and the year-round program at the School of American Ballet (SAB).
Again, we just felt this was the right choice for him at that time. It was his senior year in high school. He wanted the change. He wanted to devote his time to ballet. We listened to his mentors, and off he went.
And if he hadn’t been at SAB the year he needed to audition for jobs, he wouldn’t have been seen by the artistic director from SemperOper Ballet. He didn’t audition for that job; the director watched him in class. He had four other job offers, but that final one was the right one for him.
Now he’s in Germany rehearsing a piece by William Forsythe that Desmond Richardson once performed (and that he might perform on tour in NYC)! And he’s working with Forsythe, David Dawson, Alexei Ratmansky, and many other choreographers, and performing roles I don’t believe he’d have the chance to perform had he been a corps dancer in the U.S.
Pay Attention to the Signs
Everywhere Julian has gone there seems to be some connection or some one or some thing that led him to the next right thing. Ryan’s mom…the chance to take a class from Richardson…the boy from ABT…a NYC Ballet dancer who is the son of the ballet mistress from BSJS taking Boys’ Class at SAB…rehearsing a piece his mentor once danced….
Charmed life, you might think. No. I think we just paid attention to the signs and to the information that came our way. And we trusted our intuition. We also called on his mentors for advice, and listened carefully. All of this paid off.
You’ll never know if the decisions you make for your dancin’ boy or with your dancin’ boy are the right ones, at least not until much later. But you have to make them. Just have faith…trust that he is in the right place at the right time. And he will be.