APRIL 2017: MR. CHARLES ABEL

 
Charlie+Abel (1).jpg
 

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and that’s where I started dancing. At this point, however, I pretty much feel as if I’m from the DC area.

After a youth filled with sports – baseball, gymnastics, and wrestling - I took a modern dance class in the Limon style, then started studying full time at a small school in Baton Rouge called The Brantley School of Ballet. The late Phoebe Brantley was a great coach and she gave me so many awesome learning opportunities. She took me to see the ballet in New Orleans on several occasions and brought many excellent teachers into the school including the Russian émigré, Alexander Minz, Martin Fredman and others. Alexander “Shasha” Minz made arrangements for me to audition in DC with one of his Russian friends from the Moiseyev Ballet named Yuli Vzorov. I studied with Yuli and danced in his small company, Rhythm Ballet, for two years. I also did a lot of academic study on my own on the history of ballet, the various styles, choreographers, the language, etc. I do not have structured conservatory training.

I have to say it feels awesome to really nail double tours en l’air. I probably like this so much because of how hard it was to learn and how “not awesome” it feels to fall during an attempt! I love everything about dance! Dance is athletic. Dance is artistic. Dance is romantic. Dance is expressive. Dance is challenging. For better or worse, dance has formed my life.

My first ballet teacher, Phoebe Brantley, once said to me: “Talent is the ability to work.” That really stuck with me because not every dancer is gifted with long legs, supple back and feet, and natural ability. But it takes absolutely zero talent to show up on time; to have a positive attitude; to stay focused; to observe and learn from others; and to develop the ethic to work hard. These attributes will create success in most any endeavor. I’m not of the opinion that dancers should “suffer for the art.” We should all be able to find joy and have fun with dance but hard work in not negotiable. I enjoy a wide variety of movies but prefer script driven movies. And while the action films like Star Wars, Gladiator, and Braveheart were great, the Academy Award winner Crash always comes to mind as a favorite. I still play a lot of sports including softball, and to a lesser extent tennis (too hard on my dancer knees:). I love hiking outdoors also. When indoors I watch sports on TV and read.