Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ballets Beer Goggles

For Eric Gravolin, leaving the ballet industry was sobering. “When you’re immersed in the ballet industry,” he said, “it’s like wearing beer goggles. You see ballet dancers as fit, muscular and tough. As soon as you leave, your perception changes, and you realize that they’re all just skinny, hungry and weak. I call it one-night-stand syndrome.”

Eric Gravolin practicing his arabesque. 
Eric was a student at the Australian Ballet School, before being accepted into the Queensland Ballet Company. After a serious back injury, ballet’s continual quest for physical perfection proved too demanding, and he turned his attention towards acting.

The life of an actor is tough, but not as tough as a professional dancer, according to Eric. Acting is challenging him to forget the dangerous and obsessive quest of physical perfection sough by dancers. “Coming to terms with the idea that there isn’t just a right and wrong was an enormous challenge”, said Eric.  “The way I’ve been programmed is to see technical perfection as being paramount. Artistic self-expression comes last.”

“The pressures put on dancers for the longest legs, and the thin physique pushes us to dangerous levels. Now, when I return to the company I see a room full of sick people.”  Perfectionism is a very real characteristic of ballet, and its constant pursuit can lead to perilous disasters. This pursuit for sheer excellence is an ongoing frustration to ballet dancers, but paradoxically, it “fuels one’s motivation.” 

Eric’s one-night-stand with ballet is currently on hold, as he turns his fantasy to the commercial industry of acting. “Maybe I’ll be forever searching for perfection… forever searching for the unattainable,” Eric remarks, after a quick glance in the mirror.  Maybe so. 

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