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DAVIT KARAPETYAN – Artristic Director, PBA


I was born in Armenia, into a family of folk dancers. Naturally, my parentshoped I would dance. In an attempt to convince me, they brought me to theballet school, but I wasn’t interested. I much preferred martial arts andsports, not dance.

When I was 12, theydecided to try and get me to follow their path one more time. I started folkdancing, but after a year and half I remember watching the ballet class. I was mesmerized by the amazing jumps andturns. That night Iwent home and told my parents I wanted to be a ballet dancer. My parents wererelieved when they discovered that at last I had become serious about ballet.

Because I startedballet five years behind everyone else in my class, I had to work hard to catchup with the other kids. I was so driven that I even took extra classes. Iwanted to be the best. But I also challenged myself to do things differentlythan everyone else. I decided to participate in a dance competition in Armenia.In the contemporary category , I won the goldmedal. This gave me a lot of motivation and belief that I could make my dreamof becoming a dancer a reality. I started working even harder, trying to takemyself to the next level.

However, my nextcompetition in St. Petersburg was not nearly as successful. I made it to thesecond round, but not the finals. Even though I was devastated, this gave methe opportunity to watch and learn from my peers. As I watched, I noticed thatsmall details made a difference, like the way they held themselves and how theybehaved off stage. I realized that I could change the way I perceived myself.

I returned to Armenia from St. Petersburg, I started workingeven harder. Until that point, I had only experienced Russian training. Irealized that I needed to broaden my skills and learn more about contemporarydance and choreographers. I decided to apply to three different schools, one ofwhich was the School of Zurich Ballet, in Switzerland. I received a scholarshipthere and joined right away. This opportunity changed my life.

In Zurich, I found what I had beencraving. Most of our repertoire was contemporary, which I really enjoyed. I wasalso able to participate in several different types of performances. Forexample, I learned flamenco from Nina Corti , whichwas an incredible experience! After some time had passed, I decided I needed anew challenge, so I started preparing for the Prix de Lausanne. Thiscompetition was an unforgettable opportunity. I ended up winning theprofessional dancer’s prize and I received several job offers. However, Idecided to return to Zurich, where I ultimately spent an amazing seven years.

At the end of this time, the famili ar feeling returned that I needed a newchallenge . I needed toexplore and see what else was out there. So, I decided to look for a newcompany. I had heard about San Francisco Ballet, and I went to the U.S. forwhat would be my first company audition.

I felt that I should experience asmuch as possible. Within two days I got my visa, a plane ticket and I arrived in San Francisco andauditioned the same day. I was so amazingly excited. I couldn’t think about anything else . I was offered a contract. I went to the company manager to sort outthe details. I learned I had been given a principalcontract. Now I’ve been in the company 10 years, and looking back, I mustconfess it was the happiest day of my life. What a fun and exciting journey. Itruly can’t complain.

I’ve had the opportunity to dance andwork with many choreographers. But there are still many things I would love tobe able to dance . It’s always a matter of moving forward,and not becoming too comfortable in one place.

In the future, I have quite a fewthings and ideas I want to try. I see myself growing into a choreographer andI’d like to try teaching and coaching. Recently, I did a special project tocommemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide. It was a videocalled 1915 Meran vor Aprink . We hadto raise a lot of the funding needed and we were able to work with aprofessional crew, which was very enjoyable. There are many more dreams outthere that I want to make a reality.

I have joined the newly opened Pennsylvania Ballet Academy as an Artistic Director starting from the season 2017/18.

Photo by Karolina Kuras