Q&A with Spencer Hack
April 12, 2021
Spencer Hack. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
What are the top three activities you have been doing during the pandemic?
My partner and I got a dog last April, so that’s been keeping me pretty busy. It’s something we’ve been talking about for a while and we figured this was a good opportunity with the time we have. Other than that, I’ve been cooking lots and taking time to rest and recharge.
What would you have done as a career if ballet hadn't come your way?
Something still in the arts and something that would allow me to interact with people.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?
I’ve had many. But as Choreographer William Forsythe says, “Dance your way out of it...”
What is your work philosophy?
My work brings me closer to who I am without defining who I am.
Spencer Hack in Class on Stage. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
How do you handle criticism?
I’m all for constructive criticism but if there’s nothing to learn I try to let it go.
What is your definition of a successful ballet dancer?
I’m still figuring out what success means to me, but so far I’ve learned that it feels like joy. I’ve also learned that personal success is not always the same as critical or public success. So, I think a key to being successful is choosing joy.
What’s the worst thing about being a dancer?
I’ve found the hardest part about being a dancer is letting go. Dance is over the moment it happens and if a performance doesn’t unfold as you’d like it to, it can be hard to accept what happened and move forward.
What’s the best?
The best part of being a dancer is making a discovery. For example, it can be a new way of executing a step, a new way to hear the music, or a new insight into a character.
Spencer Hack in rehearsal for The Dreamers Ever Leave You. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
What's your guilty pleasure song that'll always make you rock out?
“Because It’s In The Music” by Robyn.
What are three random things most people don't know about you?
I love to sing. I’m not good at singing. I wish I could sing.
What was the last thing you changed your mind about?
Which Real Housewife is my favourite.
What cheers you up on an off day?
Do you have any bad habits that you're working on breaking?
Not really, but I am working on building some new habits.
What is your favourite onstage memory?
My first year with company as an Apprentice, during the soldiers’ dance in Nijinsky. It was the first time I was onstage and didn’t have to think about dancing. It’s a super physical dance at a very intense moment in the ballet that ends with all 25 soldiers dead on the floor. And then after, we all get up one by one and slowly walk off stage into the background, like ghosts. I remember getting to the wings and feeling empty and charged all at once; it felt electric.
Spencer Hack in The Nutcracker. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
What is your favourite ballet and why?
The Nutcracker was the very first ballet I fell in love with and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I have so many memories associated with it and after all these years the music just gets better.
What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?
I think deciding to pursue a ballet career was a risk. It’s short, unforgiving, and uncertain so you need to be unshaken in your love for it.
When are you most proud of yourself?
It takes a lot of bravery to stay true to yourself as an artist, so I think I feel most proud when I’ve done that.
Tell us about an awe-inspiring thing you've seen or experienced.
I’m inspired by the kindness and selflessness people have shown in response to the pandemic. Especially the frontline and essential workers; they are our heroes.
Do you have a favourite quote?
It’s not exactly a quote but one of my favorite dance teachers, Christine Wright, uses a conversation she had with a photographer to explain the importance of feeling movement to a dancer. She says that the photographer explained to her that the camera is not his medium, light is his medium. She relates this to dance by explaining that a dancer often thinks of their body as the medium, but this is not the case. Movement is a dancer’s medium. I think about this all the time.
What’s the number one item on your bucket list?
I love food and I love the chef Alice Waters. I’d love to eat at her restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
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Watch Spencer in Lake Maligne >