The LBC members and guests who joined us on Zoom from around the world for our latest “in conversation” event were treated to a fascinating interview with rising stars of the ballet world, Shale Wagman and Antonio Casalinho. The interview was led by the acclaimed dance writer, Amanda Jennings.

Amanda started the interview by asking Antonio and Shale about their training. Antonio, who started training at 8 years old, talked about the diversity of teachers he had and the importance of learning different styles to make for more “versatile dancers.” Shale recalled that he started dance by doing “jazz, tap, hip hop, contemporary …” but fell in love with ballet after his first class. From the age of 9, he started competing and by 14 had moved to Europe to continue his education.

The conversation then took in the topic of competitions. Antonio and Shale have both been competing from a young age and are both previous winners of the Prix de Lausanne. Antonio said that “competitions play an important role in education” and are a chance for dancers to experiment with a range of styles. Shale echoed Antonio’s support of competitions, saying, that whilst it was a lot of pressure, it “taught me how to work in a group as well as an individual. Watching the other dancers was extremely valuable.”

Both of these talented, young dancers spoke warmly of their experience on stage – Shale said the experience of stepping on stage “is hard to put into words – it is unlike anything else in my life.” Likewise, Antonio replied “I feel a lot of joy stepping on stage.” Amanda guided the discussion as Shale and Antonio enthralled the audience with their articulate, thought-provoking responses and thrilling stories. 

The audience on Zoom also had the chance to ask questions. Shale was asked to talk about his time at the Mariinsky (he said “it was all I could have expected and more”), as well as whether he would consider choreographing his own works (“I’ve always been intrigued by music and choreography”). Antonio, likewise, was asked about his experience dancing classical repertoire and how he mentally adjusted to lockdown. He was also asked about his recent experience working with Maina Gieglud. Both dancers spoke animatedly about their 'Casawagman' challenge videos and suggested that another video might be on the way soon!

After this incredibly insightful event, it seems certain that a number of members will be checking the flight schedules to Munich (where Shale and Antonio are currently performing with the Bayerische Staatsoper) to see these two spectacular dancers in action!

A full report of this event is available here, and a recording of the event will be uploaded to the 'members only' section of the website in a few months time.

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