Nilas Martins previous principle dancer at NYCB. Spoke to dance majors and other supports of the arts on October 26, 2016 at Mercyhurst University. I was lucky enough to attend the chat and live tweet the event for one of my other Communication courses. Throughout the chat Nilas discussed his journey of leaving Denmark where he lived with both of his parents during his childhood. Both of his parents were dancers, and because of this he followed in both of their footsteps, starting training very early on in his life. At a very young age he started to perform at the Royal Danish theatre. He performed in ballet, opera as well as theatre performances. He stated how extremely privleged to experience this at such a young age. in 1970 Nilas’ father Peter Martins took a job with New York City Ballet.
Nilas’ decided to come with his father to the states and started training at the American School of Ballet. Soon after this Nilas’ became apart of NYCB dance company and worked under his father. A typical day at NYCB was having technique class from 10:30 to 12 then rehearsal 12 to 6 then perform 8 to 10. The intensity of the schedule made multiple dancers quite. However, being even in the core of this company was more than any other company. Balanchine created each piece to have the core dancers dance and move across the stage rather than posing on the side. Nilas’ explained later in the chat how he had to stop comparing himself to his father. Since his father was one of the originals multiple pieces were set on him meaning he was the first to perform them. Some of his favorite roles were Square Dance and Sleeping Beauty, as well as all of the other classics. He also performed and staged Bournville style pieces. Very physically demanding and challenges the dancers.
After retiring from being a Principle Dancer at NYCB he did an Arts Management fellowship at Kennedy center in NYC. This fellowship but the Kennedy center on the map. The fellowship started with class in the morning then worked in different areas as an internship for the rest of the day. Martins suggests Michael Kaiser books which were an excellent resource during his fellowship.
Although teaching was not one of his original passions, in 1996 Mr. Martins came a Répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust and stages ballets for companies and schools in the US as well as Internationally. He also sets pieces in both a Bournaville style or Balanchine style. When he choreographs a new piece Martins likes to sketches the outline/format prior to thinking of steps but wait to see the dancers to pick the actual movement. Since he goes to multiple different studios, company or schools each set of dancers are different. Seeing what they can and cannot execute helps him judge how easy or difficult to create the piece.
Overall Nilas Martin was extremely inspiring. At the end of his talk he really put in to each of our minds that yes dance is fundamentally the most important thing to us each individual but at the same time it is only dance. “Look at the big picture” step back from it and realize what is important that day. Each day is different and each day you will learn something new no matter what.
If you want to see my live tweets look at my Storify account!