France’s Lyon Opera Ballet Company, known for their precision and style, will be performing at UCSB Monday, Oct. 4 and Tuesday, Oct. 5, at Campbell Hall. Artsweek was given the opportunity to interview Michael Walters, a 24-year old dancer and the only American in the company.
Artsweek: How long have you been dancing?
Michael Walters: Since I was 17. It was something I always wanted to do. I used to do street dancing with my friends, but I didn’t start any formal training until I was 17.
Artsweek: Where did you grow up?
Artsweek: Do you miss America?
MW: Yes, when I first moved to Europe – not so much America but New York. I still miss New York, but I try to throw myself into things I am doing and forget about how much I miss it.
Artsweek: As the only American dancer in a French ballet company, how have you been perceived?
MW: Just as a person in the company, not a nationality per se, but Americans in general they perceive as loud and outspoken.
Artsweek: How is your life different from the average college student?
MW: I travel. I’m a professional at what I do. I am respected for what I do. I am very privileged to get to do what I love.
Artsweek: What is an average day like for you?
MW: We have dance class from 10 to 11:15 a.m. Then we have rehearsal from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., lunch from 1:30 to 3 p.m., then a run-through from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and then we perform.
Artsweek: Where have you been able to travel?
MW: I’ve traveled most of Western Europe; so Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, France, England and then Japan, China and all over America with the company.
Artsweek: What is your favorite place you have traveled?
MW: Italy. Italians are gorgeous. I love the weather, the scenery. There is something very mystical about Italy.
Artsweek: What is your least favorite place?
MW: Germany and Holland. They are very cold and dreary and the people very cold and gray.
Artsweek: Have you had time to see the sights while on tour?
MW: Yes. We have free days while on tour. Occasionally I’ll do touristy things, but usually just relax and see some of the city. I don’t do touristy things as much in America because I know what is going on, but when we went to China I wanted to see a lot of things.
Artsweek: Where would you be now if you weren’t a dancer?
MW: I’d see myself in the entertainment business. I love acting. I’d still see myself doing this, but I hate the political bullshit with directors letting the dancers know what is going on last. Dancers are the product that is being presented and the politics get in the way of that sometimes, so I’d see myself making my own decisions for my own organization.