An Interview with Royal Ballet Principal Nehemiah Kish
The American Principal tells The Ballet Bag about moving to the company.
New principal dancer Nehemiah Kish is featured in the Royal Opera House’s latest podcast where he talks about his experience of coming into the Company from outside, alongside colleagues Itziar Mendizabal (also a new joiner) and Sarah Lamb.
Nehemiah was formerly a principal at the National Ballet of Canada and then joined The Royal Danish Ballet in 2008. He made the move to The Royal Ballet this season appearing in three one-act ballets, as part of October’s mixed bill. As he now prepares to tackle Les Patineurs and Swan Lake, we had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his debut with the Company and what’s in store for him this season:
How did your move to the Royal Ballet come about?
Nehemiah: I had been interested in The Royal Ballet for a long time, so I made it known how much I wanted to dance with the Company. The Company’s repertory, with all the MacMillan and Ashton work, was an incentive for me to join. I also wanted the opportunity to dance with the incredible artists that are here. I approached Monica Mason and invited her to watch me in the Copenhagen premiere of John Neumeier’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. She came with Jeanetta Laurence, the Associate Director and it went from there.
How are you adapting and what are you bringing from your previous experiences?
Nehemiah: I have adapted quite well. I feel more settled in now that I’ve danced a few shows and been on stage. I feel like everything I’ve worked on up to this point in my career and all the experience I’ve had has led into being here. Before I arrived I’d danced with Alina Cojocaru a couple of times but I’ve mostly met new people so that has been interesting.
You made your debut a couple of weeks ago in Ashton’s La Valse, followed by roles in Winter Dreams and Theme & Variations. How did you feel about your first performances here?
Nehemiah: It was amazing to be onstage at the Royal Opera House for the first time. My first three performances were in three different ballets, with three different partners so it was pretty challenging. But it was also exciting and extremely enjoyable. La Valse takes a lot of stamina; there is a lot more to it than you think and it is much more challenging than it looks. It involves a lot of bending from side to side and more exaggerated positions than most classical ballets.
How about the challenges of performing in all these different styles with three different partners?
Nehemiah: It wasn’t actually as complicated as you might think. They are all so different that it wasn’t as hard to separate them. As they are such a variety of styles they demand different techniques and dramatic qualities that distinguish them from each other. I have performed some Ashton and MacMillan before, but I am more familiar with Balanchine. One of the great things about The Royal Ballet is the Ashton and MacMillan repertory so it’s something that I’m really looking forward to exploring, even though their styles are still very new to me.
What are you most looking forward to in the season?
Nehemiah: To be honest, I always just look forward to the ballet I do next, so at the moment I’m focusing on Les Patineurs and Swan Lake. I’m going to Cuba for a week or so for the Ballet Festival but I’ll start rehearsals for Les Patineurs when I get back. Similarly, I’ll start doing Swan Lake fairly soon too – it will be the first time I’ve danced with Zenaida Yanowsky and she’s had some great partners in the past so it will be an important performance for me.
After that, I am really looking forward dancing with Sarah Lamb in Cinderella and Marianela Nuñez in Manon. By the end of the season, I’ll have danced with most of the girls here!
How different is a “day in The Royal Ballet” as compared to the other companies you’ve danced with?
Nehemiah: For the past two years in Copenhagen I’ve been used to doing a longer class everyday so that is one difference straight away. The performance schedule here is similar to the Royal Danish Ballet’s, although the rehearsal schedule is slightly different, which means a longer day here. In Copenhagen we also performed and were based in the Opera House, but when I was in Canada there were two separate facilities, so that was a very different environment.
How do you see your future with the Company?
Nehemiah: Right now, it seems pretty good and this year there are a lot of ballets to dance. I am hoping it will stay the same, and the more I dance the ballets, the more I will find my own voice in them. I think it’s important to grow into roles and make your own interpretations of them.
About the Author:
The Ballet Bag is an online resource for the best of ballet around the web: performances, companies, dancers, interviews and other websites. With the aim to “Give Ballet a New Spin” and make it more accessible, editors Emilia and Linda write dance content, mashing it up with pop culture. They use social media to network with dance fans, companies, performers, writers, bloggers, etc. sharing what’s good, fun and interesting in the balletsphere.