Originally, mymotherenrolledme in ballet because it kept me off the streets. For the first two years, I danced only half-heartedly.I didn’t really like it much.One day, someone told my mother I would never become a professional dancer. Suddenly, I became determined to prove them wrong.I am extremely stubborn by nature, and this comment struck a cord in me. Consequently,Ibecame very committed to my training.
When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to studyat the Geneva Dance Centerin Switzerland. There,I met a wonderful teacher, named David Allen, with whom I trained I until I was 19.Then, in 2001, I joined the Vienna State Opera Ballet, mostly because it was very close to my family in Albania. However, Iquickly became very unhappy in Vienna.Throughout the whole season, I didn’t step on stage once. When I went to ask the director why, he replied that I danced too much like a prince, sodidn’t fit in the corps de ballet. Iwas so hurt by his rude comments thatalmost hit him with a chair. Luckily, a friend of mine intervened before anything got too serious. All I wanted to do was be on stage. I’m not sure why he dislikedmy dancing so much, butit seemed there was nothing I could do about it.
My phone rang, and there was a job for me. I tore up my return ticket and never looked back. I am a big believer in destiny, and for some reason, this was meant for me.
At this point, I was so frustrated by the situation I really thought I would quit dancing all together.Butit seemed silly to wasteall my hard work,soI decided I wouldtry a few open auditions andjust to see what came of it.During this time, I had no money. So I had to sleep in a train station and begged for food. It was a very dehumanizing experience, but did teach me a lot about life.
When I auditioned forBayerischeStaatsoper, the director, IvanLiska, didn’t hire me right away. He said that if there became any openings, I would be his first call. I didn’t really believe him. I thought he was just a nice guy trying to let me down easily. So, I went to the airport, and prepared myself to return home to Albania. However, my phone rang, and there was a job for me.I tore up my ticket and never looked back. I am a big believer in destiny, and for some reason, this was meant for me.
I am the first to say I’m not the most physically talented. I have struggled a lot, and think that ballet is too difficult unless you are supremely talented. That being said, I think my true talent lies in partnering. Some how, I am able to know exactly where the ballerina should be. It is a very intuitive sense that I would love to be able to pass on to the next generation. In so many young dancers, you can see the fear in their eyes as they approachtheir partner. Ifeel that I would really be able to help them.
Throughout my career, the most challenging thing for me has been to maintain a calm head. My emotions bubble very close to the surface and I often act on impulse. Ihaveworked very hard at not letting my feelings get the best of me. Now, I am able to control my head and remain cool under pressure.
Starting from the season 2017/18 I joined Dortmund Ballet as a principal guest artist.