20 Questions with Ben Rudisin
May 28, 2020
1. What are the top three activities you have been doing during social distancing?
- Reading! This has definitely been my number one activity and I have read a book a week since quarantine started.
- I’ve also been doing various home improvement projects: Paint touch ups, small fixes, those sorts of things.
- Thirdly, I always look forward to a weekly trivia event that I attend via Zoom with some friends from outside the ballet (we have yet to win but I know we’ll get there!). I’ve also tried to stick to some sort of dance training. I’ve been doing Pilates, barre in the kitchen and home workouts.
2. What would you have done as a career if ballet hadn't come your way?
I’ve answered this question before, saying something equally ambitious and challenging. My answer back then was something like a lawyer or doctor, however, these days I’m finding myself very interested in home improvement and design, so something along those lines!
3. Have you ever had an embarrassing moment performance-wise?
Many! It’s always embarrassing to fall onstage which has happened many times. My worst fall to this day was my first performance with Houston Ballet
as a member of their second company, Houston Ballet II
. I was in the very back, off to the side, and fell flat on my back. It was so embarrassing I thought for a moment that I should roll offstage. I didn’t though.
4. What is your work philosophy?
I always try to work hard and push myself to my limits even when it feels like I can’t. These days, I’m learning to embrace more freedom in how I work and move and am learning to relax more. My ultimate goal is to be proud of what I’ve done for the day, whether that is pushing myself to my max or recognizing that I needed a gentler approach to my daily work.
5. How do you handle criticism?
You have to take it in stride. It can be upsetting to hear something negative about yourself or you can use it for a positive change. I try to stick to the latter and remember that our coaches are there to help us improve and grow to our full potential. Without critique all dancers would plateau and I want to constantly be striving for more.
6. Favorite colour and least favorite colour?
Blue is my favourite colour by far. My least favourite would probably be brown.
7. What's your definition of a successful ballet dancer?
Success can be measured in so many ways for a dancer. I feel success is how you approach your work and performances, whether in a group or in a solo. I want to feel satisfied with what I’ve put onstage, knowing that I didn’t hold back or restrain myself.
8. What’s the worst thing about being a dancer and what’s the best?
The worst is the pain. Those first few steps in the morning keep getting harder and harder. The best is live performance. It’s everything we work towards.
9. What's your guilty pleasure song that'll make you rock out no matter where you are?
They’re not guilty at all but anything from the new Dua Lipa album or Taylor Swift’s new album... actually, maybe the Taylor Swift album is a bit of a guilty pleasure.
10. What are three random things most people don't know about you?
- I don’t eat beef.
- I have quite a big LEGO collection at my home in Virginia.
- I love escape rooms.
11. What was the last thing you changed your mind about?
Whether or not Taylor Swift should be considered a guilty pleasure.
12. What cheers you up on an off day?
A hug from my partner, Harrison
13. Do you have any bad habits that you're working on breaking?
Lots of ballet ones like keeping my lowers abs more active and my port de bras more supported. Outside of ballet, I’m trying to floss more but it’s not easy.
14. What is your favorite memory of being onstage?
It has to be dancing the Knights dance from James Kudelka’s Swan Lake. It’s so difficult and tiring but it feels super powerful to be working with a group of men in that way. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often in ballet.
15. Favorite ballet?
I love Swan Lake. It was the first ballet that truly made me appreciate and fall in love with the art form. I had been taking ballet classes for a few years before I saw it and something sort of clicked with me. I went home afterward and kept watching YouTube videos of the ballet.
16. What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?
I would have to say deciding to go to North Carolina School for the Arts (where I had most of my dance training). Attending the school required me to leave home when I was 13 and I really haven’t lived at home ever since. It was a difficult choice but one that has definitely paid off.
17. When are you most proud of yourself?
I feel most proud of myself when I’m really physical. It is extremely gratifying to finish a taxing ballet or even a hard gym workout. I guess it’s all those endorphins!
18. Tell us about an awe-inspiring thing you've seen or experienced.
After our final performances in St. Petersburg there was a gold confetti shower. It was pretty magical to be in the midst of that.
19. Do you have a favourite quote?
This a tough one…. probably something from the movie Bridesmaids. There are too many to list here. Or maybe from RuPaul’s Drag Race: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else.”
20. Finally, what is the top item on your bucket list?
I’ve always wanted to visit Bora Bora and stay in one of those beautiful resorts where your room is out in the ocean. I can just imagine watching the sunset from there with a drink in hand.
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