20 Questions with Corps de Ballet member Keaton Leier
January 6, 2023
Keaton Leier. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
Keaton Leier is one of 15 new dancers to join The National Ballet of Canada this season as the company returns to its pre-pandemic size. Born in Saskatoon, Keaton trained at The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and Houston Ballet II before joining Atlanta Ballet in 2017. Learn more about this exciting artist, nature-lover and environmentalist in our “20 Questions” series. Welcome Keaton!
What inspired you to join The National Ballet of Canada?
The National Ballet of Canada has always been an inspiration to me in many different ways, from the repertoire to the dancers, the facility and more. As a Canadian, I was always inspired to join the company.
What would you have done as a career if you hadn’t pursued ballet?
For as long as I can remember I was focused on becoming a veterinarian, mostly because of my love for animals. Now I could see myself being an environmental activist because of the passion I have for nature and the earth’s health.
What is your work philosophy?
I like to approach the work by understanding its history and tuning into the reason we are working on it today. I also try to remind myself that I’m extremely lucky to be in this position and to continue to push myself to be the best that I can.
How do you handle criticism?
I believe that all criticism is worth consideration and provides an opportunity to learn more about yourself and improve.
What's your definition of a successful ballet dancer?
Someone who is confident with their work but always striving to push further in a positive way.
What’s the best thing about being a dancer?
There’s an incomparable feeling of freedom when you let yourself go in dancing. I haven’t been able to find that in any other aspect of my life and that’s why I think it can be so significant.
What’s the worst?
The battle with body maintenance and injuries.
What music are you listening to right now?
I love house music and am currently listening to Beyoncé’s Renaissance album on repeat.
Keaton Leier. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love spending time in nature. I am also the co-founder of Artists Climate Collective, a small non-profit organization that merges the arts with climate science.
What are three things most people don't know about you?
- My brother is a professional hockey player.
- I am a proud cat dad.
- I am a Gemini and I like learning about zodiacs for fun.
What cheers you up on an off day?
A good sleep in and a matcha latte from a local coffee shop.
What is your favorite onstage memory?
My premiere as the Nutcracker Prince in Yuri Possokhov’s version of The Nutcracker for Atlanta Ballet on tour at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It was such a special way to debut my first full-length principal role.
What is your favourite ballet?
To dance: Vespertine by Liam Scarlett.
To watch: The Taming of the Shrew by Jean-Christophe Maillot.
What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?
I think any career move/transition is a risk, so I would say all of the changes in my career paths were seemingly “risky” but exciting!
Could you name someone who has mentored or inspired you?
Roman Rykine, who danced previously with San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet and more. He was my teacher and coach for many years and I wouldn’t be the dancer I am today without him. I have so much to thank him for!
Where would you like to travel, but haven’t yet?
I always have a travel bug and currently I have my eye on Greece!
What are you reading right now?
The Overstory by Richard Powers.
What’s the top item on your bucket list?
To have a dog one day.
Adage or Allegro?
Have you fallen in love with any of your costumes?
I really loved my Act II costume for Albrecht in Giselle with Atlanta Ballet. It was Yuri Possokhov’s gala jacket and he let me wear it for my shows. That felt very special, plus it was beautiful!
Keaton Leier in Company Class. Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic.
Learn more about Keaton