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Beyond The Barre is an intimate, insightful and sometimes funny conversation with Colorado Ballet’s spectacular dancers.
Today’s conversation is with Kevin Gaël Thomas, newly promoted soloist who has graced the stage in performances of The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and La Sylphide to name a few.
On the first day back from break, Kevin sat down with me in Studio 8. Upon meeting Kevin I could tell that he is very humble, genuinely kind and full of wisdom. He speaks with so much passion about the people he loves, dancing of course and travel. We quickly bond over our mutual love for travel, sharing stories, reminiscing on incredible adventures and celebrating the beauty of immersing yourself into a new culture.
KH: You’ve been in Colorado since 2007, but you’re originally from France, what do you miss most about France?
KGT: The food and quality of restaurants. I really miss taking the time to eat, you’re not going to eat in 30 minutes and just go but you’re really going to sit down and have a conversation.
KH: How did you know you wanted to dance ballet?
KGT: My mom is a huge fan of Grease the musical and she used to play it and I remember seeing Olivia John Newton and John Travolta just dancing and there was that beat and I would get up and start dancing. I would start improvising and dance my heart out.
Across from where I lived was an art school where the young gentlemen were singing and the young ladies were dancing. I got into that program and was singing for an entire year until they came to my parents and said, “You know, Kevin is very enthusiastic, and he’s a sweet little guy but I’m not sure singing is quite his talent. We should try to put him into the ballet program.” So because I couldn’t sing I ended up studying dance.
KH: What do you eat for breakfast?
KGT: Coffee, croissant and a banana. Café and croissant is very French, it’s a cultural thing I grew up with.
KH: If I gave you $100,000 what would you do with it?
KGT: I would spend a month in Brazil with all my peeps. We’d rent a villa or castle and party on. I’d have the time of my life with all the people I love.
KH: That sounds like a blast!
KGT: Yea, I love to share. I just lost my grandmother during Swan Lake and it made me realize how we get upset over tiny details but in the end what matters is being alive and healthy. I guess when she died the message I got was to keep sharing, keep loving. The more you love the more alive you feel. More than having the best job or $100,000, spreading love, that’s the true goal.
KH: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
KGT: Sincere, passionate, and determined.
KH: If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring?
KGT: I would bring an MP3 that can last forever so that I could have music with me all the time. I'd have great dancers I could choreograph on because I choreograph all the time, and I would have the woman I love.
KH: What’s your favorite thing about Denver?
Being at the theater and performing. I feel I can connect with the most people in 5 minutes, I can dance for 5 minutes not needing to talk to the audience but I feel we shared something together.
KH: Do you have a hidden talent?
KGT: I played piano for 10 years, I choreograph and I write poetry but only in French, not English yet. For some reason it’s harder to express the complexity of what I feel when I write in English. I grew up on the French Riviera, close to Nice. I wrote a poem after the attack on July 14 and also choreographed a 20 min ballet called ‘Riviera’ as homage to the victims.
KH: What is your favorite movie?
KGT: Leon:The professional. I love the complexity that I find in films because I can relate to it, like our lives it’s not just black and white but there are so many grey areas. Also, Dracula, I’m a huge Gary Oldman fan, talk about complex characters.
KH: If you hadn’t chosen this career, what would you be doing?
KGT: I would be a musician because I played piano for 10 years and I was just as good as in dance and had the training but I end up choosing dance because I had the opportunity to come to America.
KH: What are words you live by?
KGT: “Enjoy while it lasts.” Nothing ever lasts; even your deepest depression moments. It’s going to go away because somebody’s going to give you that phone call or that one person is going to look at you and it’s going to be so comprehensive and all of a sudden you feel like you’re not alone anymore. I’m one of those guys where I’m not just going to just take a bite but I will close my eyes and savor it. It can be a New York cheesecake or potato gratin it doesn’t matter but I really like to savor things.
KH: Why do you dance?
KGT: It’s the best way for me to express my deepest emotions. When my grandmother died, I got back in the studio and told myself that I would dance for her and that helped me so much.
KH: What inspires you?
To see others on stage or in the studios transcend themselves. When I see those dancers who are able to take one moment of their lives and make something out of it all of a sudden I feel they transcend themselves. It’s not about what you see it’s about what you can perceive, what you can sense and I think that’s the beauty of the art.
KH: What advice would you give your 10 year old self?
KGT: Never let go of your dreams. Believe in your dreams and believe it is truly possible. I remember when I was getting ready to come to America and I had big dreams and everybody looked at me like I was crazy, had I listened to those people… (Drops off)
"Also, smile at life and life will smile back."
Principal dancer Maria Mosina will retire after 21 seasons with Colorado Ballet and 26 seasons as a professional dancer. Here is a look back at her amazing career.
After 21 seasons as a Principal Dancer at Colorado Ballet and 26 seasons as a professional dancer, Maria Mosina announced her plan to retire at the end of the 2016-2017 season.
“To be honest, I would dance forever, but I believe this is the time for me to step out and give the opportunity to younger dancers to step in and dance for our audience,” said Mosina. “The 2016-2017 will be my last season as a member of the Colorado Ballet Company.”
According to Mosina, she has mixed feelings about retiring because her brain and body do not feel like she has to stop dancing, but she knew going into the season that it would be the last of her professional career. While teaching this summer, she accidentally bumped into a metal barre and broke her foot while teaching. “I’m working very hard, doing my best for a fast recovery, and I’m hoping that I will dance the full season,” said Mosina. “Of course, throughout my career, there were little injuries and there’s always pain, but I don’t feel that it is time to stop because my body feels that it is enough. I think it’s better to stop when you’re on top of your career and not when you are going down.”
Mosina says that the thing she will miss most is spending time in the studios working on ballets. This is where she spent most of her time as a professional dancer. “On stage, of course, it’s magic, but it’s a finished product,” said Mosina. “Most of the time, we’re in studio working so hard, digging into our body, our brain, our soul, to pick up the best way to present our body, our soul to the audience. And for me, it’s the most interesting process.”
When Gil Boggs became the artistic director of Colorado Ballet in 2006, he said that he was overjoyed to find Maria Mosina dancing with the Company. “Maria is an artist who could have been a member of any major company in the world,” said Boggs. “Because she chose Colorado Ballet, she helped to make this Company truly exceptional. Her sheer artistry and professionalism are a joy to behold. It was a teary moment for me when realization came that her career was coming to an end. I respect her artistry and what she has brought to this organization day after day.”
Mosina said that she is also thankful to Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs, for the opportunity to be a leader over the years and for trusting in her art and for previous Artistic Director Martin Fredmann for giving her a job in the Company, for believing in her and giving her the opportunity to dance different styles. “Martin helped me open up and gave me confidence that I was able to trust in myself and my ability to dance different styles and difficulties, “said Mosina. “He developed my talent with the repertoire and with the choreographers that worked with the Company and made me believe that I was capable of doing anything. And I feel like Gil gave me the opportunity to show to the audience and to the Company my experience. He used me as an example of how to deal with the whole process, rehearsals, preparation for roles, and how to have a positive attitude for the work that was needed. I feel that he was very respectful to me for who I was as a professional dancer.”
Looking back on her career, Mosina says she is thankful for the opportunities she has had to work with amazing choreographers, coaches, partners, mentors and teachers around the world. “I was very fortunate that throughout my career, I had a lot of people close to my heart—people, mentors that guided me through my career,” said Mosina. “Teachers, who not only showed me the steps of ballet but they helped me to create the parts and roles. They’d tell me about little secrets and details that their teachers told them. There is a little chain, and I think it’s time for me to give this knowledge and my experience to younger generations.”
After she retires at the end of the season, she plans to continue her work in the studio, but on the other side, as a teacher, mentor and coach to younger dancers. Mosina says that this transformation feels easier because she will continue to serve the art of ballet, just in a different role.
“Everyone knows that the career of a ballet dancer is not so long, but for me, I had 26 years of dancing professionally, and I’ve traveled around the world and shown my art to different audiences,” said Mosina. “I’ve worked with the best teachers, coaches and choreographers and I’ll be very thankful for all my life that I had the opportunity.”
About Maria Mosina:
Maria Mosina was born in Moscow and graduated from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia. Upon graduation, Mosina joined the Bolshoi Ballet Grigorovich Company and was chosen for principal roles. She toured the world appearing on all major European, American, African and Asian stages. In 1995, Colorado Ballet invited Mosina to join as a leading principal dancer.
She has performed all major parts in classical productions such as Clara and Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Sylphide in La Sylphide, Odette-Odille in Swan Lake, Aurora and Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle in Giselle, Swanhilda in Coppelia, Kitri in Don Quixote, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Talioni in Pas de Quatre, The Dying Swan, Le Spectre de La Rose and pas de deux from Le Corsaire, Talisman, Paquita, Les Sylphides. Ms. Mosina also had the chance to show her talent in neoclassical, modern and contemporary choreographed master pieces such as Balanchine’s Apollo, Rubies, Theme and Variations, Western Symphony, Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Stars and Stripes and Who Cares?, as well as Christopher Weeldon’s A Midsummer Night's Dream, Peter Pucci’s Size Nine Spirit (as seen on PBS). She has also performed Alvin Ailey’s River, Martha Graham’s monumental Appalachian Spring, Agnes de Mille's Rodeo, Paul Taylor's Company B, F. Ashton's Facade, Antony Tudor's Leaves are Fading and Echoing of Trumpets, Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs and In The Upper Room, Glen Tetley’s The Rite of Spring, Michael Pink's Dracula and Hunchback of Notre Dame, S.Welch's Of Blessed Memory, Val Caniparoli’s In Pieces, Martin Fredmann and Alun Jones' Romeo and Juliet, and Ben Stevenson's Cinderella, A Little Love, Mon Dieu, Sechertorte, Silent Woods and Dreamspace (as seen on PBS), Vebre's Where the Wild Things Are, Clark Tippet's Bruch Violin Concerto No.1, Matthew Neenan's The Faraway, Lynn Taylor-Corbett's Great Galloping Gottschalk, Lar Lubovitch's ...smile with my heart, Emery LeCrone’s Archetypes, Jodie Gates’ Embellish, Sandra Brown's The Last Beat, and many more.
Mosina has been featured in numerous magazine articles and was a featured dancer on the cover of Dance Magazine in 1997. She holds a bachelor's degree in methodology and pedagogy from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography. She is also an active ballet instructor throughout the United States. Additionally, Mosina participated as a master teacher and judge for the Youth American Grand Prix.
|Maria Mosina by Allen Birnbach|
|Mosina in Appalachian Spring|
|Mosina in Don Quixote - photo by Terry Shapiro|
|Maria Mosina and Igor Vassine in Giselle - photo by Rosalie O'Connor|
|Maria Mosina in Romeo and Juliet - photo by David Andrews|
|Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov in The Nutcracker - photo by Mike Watson
Colorado Ballet - Where Athlete Meets Art - featuring Principal Domenico Luciano
Colorado Ballet - Where Athlete Meets Art - featuring Soloist Asuka Sasaki
Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs promoted Corps de Ballet dancers Morgan Buchanan and Kevin Gaël Thomas to Soloists. In addition, Boggs promoted two Studio Company dancers to Apprentices, for a total of 30 professional Company dancers for the 2016-2017 season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of all our Colorado Ballet dancers and I’m also excited about the roster changes for this coming season,” said Boggs.
About Morgan Buchanan
Originally from Houston, Texas, Morgan Buchanan trained at the Ballet Center of Houston and at Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy. She also attended summer programs with American Ballet Theatre, Orlando Ballet and Houston Ballet. She joined Colorado Ballet’s Studio Company in 2009, was promoted into the Company in 2011 and promoted to Soloist in 2016. Her notable roles with Colorado Ballet include Wendy in Michael Pink’s Peter Pan, Vitality Fairy and Jewels in The Sleeping Beauty, Moyna in Giselle, Autumn Fairy and Fairy Godmother in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Dew Drop in The Nutcracker, First Passerby in Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, and Effie in La Sylphide.
|Morgan Buchanan by Allen Birnbach
About Kevin Gaël Thomas
Kevin Gaël Thomas is from France and studied at Rosella Hightower’s International Ballet Center and at Canada’s National Ballet School. After graduation, he danced for a year with Houston Ballet II, joined Colorado Ballet in 2007 and was promoted to Soloist in 2016. His notable roles at Colorado Ballet include Fritz, Russian and the Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker, Blue Bird and Jewels in The Sleeping Beauty, the Whip Boy in Glen Tetley’s The Rite of Spring, Jester in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Peter in Michael Pink’s Peter Pan, Puck in Christopher Wheeldon's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the title role in Michael Smuin’s Peter and the Wolf, the first sailor in Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, and Gurn in La Sylphide.
|Kevin Gaël Thomas by Allen Birnbach
Boggs also promoted Regan Kucera and Tyler Rhoads to Apprentices in the Company. Kucera and Rhoads had both danced with the Studio Company for the last two seasons. Kucera studied at International Ballet Academy in Cary, NC and at summer programs at American Ballet Theatre New York, Orlando Ballet and Saratoga Springs. Rhoads is from Midland, TX and trained at Midland Festival Ballet, the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, FL, and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.
|Regan Kucera by Francisco Estevez Photography
|Tyler Rhoads by Francisco Estevez Photography|
In addition to the new Company dancers, 22 Studio Company dancers will join the professional Company dancers this season for the productions at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Colorado Ballet's Studio Company is a pre-professional training opportunity for dancers with the potential and desire to become professional dancers.
Colorado Ballet’s Company dancers will perform at An Evening under the Stars on August 20 at the Arvada Center Outdoor Amphitheater. The Company will officially open the 2016-2017 season with Swan Lake on October 7 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
Colorado Ballet's dancers will present two performances of Fancy Footwork, an exciting show featuring pieces chosen by the dancers themselves. The performances will take place at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 in Colorado Ballet's Black Box Theater at the Armstrong Center for Dance, 1075 Santa Fe Drive.
Selections will range from excerpts of the great classics to new contemporary works by choreographers within the Colorado Ballet family.
Guests attending the evening performance will also have the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind items and experiences in a silent auction, tailored by the Colorado Ballet dancers. All proceeds from the event will go towards Colorado Ballet’s career transition fund, Next Step.
The cost is $25 and tickets are limited.
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