BWW Interviews: Nashville Ballet's EDDIE MIKRUT, This Dancer's Life
Eddie Mikrut is one of the leading lights of Nashville Ballet's professional company of dancers, taking on some of the most challenging roles in the dancer's repertory and consistently delivering awe-inspiring performances.
Paired with some of the exceptional women in the company, Mikrut shows a superb command of his talent and his abilities, in so doing lifting (both literally and figuratively) the women to greater heights and showing off the various choreographic challenges cast upon him.
And, apparently, I think he's very handsome since every review of him I've ever written has made reference to him as "the handsome Eddie Mikrut." Who knew? Guess I'll need to bring out the old thesaurus the next time I write a review of one of his thrilling performances.
For example, here's a portion of my Giselle review from 2009: "Paired with the handsome Eddie Mikrut as Count Albrecht, [Christine] Rennie is given ample support by his superb partnering, which effectively paints the romantic vision of the star-crossed pair that we've come to love and to expect. But Mikrut is so much more than just an effective partner to his Giselle, rather he is an exceptional dancer who is given the opportunity to display the range of his abilities."
In my review of Nashville's Nutcracker, from that same 2009-2010 season, I wrote "The professional members of the cast, the talented women and men who comprise the heart and soul of Nashville Ballet and who pursue their art in a city better known for its music, deliver superb performances throughout. The highlight of Act One, which is replete with gorgeous visual imagery and equally gorgeous dancing amid [Paul] Vasterling's staging, is most certainly the stanza-ending "Snow Scene," choreographed by Robert Rodham and staged by Fiona Fuerstner. The always beautiful and always graceful Christine Rennie and the always handsome and always authoritative Eddie Mikrut are expertly paired as the Snow Queen and King and they, once again, prove to be superior artists. It's a wonderful ending to Act One that elicits the audience's warm applause and cheers."
So, obviously, he's won me over and I suspect that this informative and enlightening conversation with him (he was in Austin Powers? Again, who knew? Okay, everyone who works with him, but that's beside the point!), will win you over. Read, enjoy and get to know "the handsome Eddie Mikrut" (and just so you know, the song "I Can Do That" from A Chorus Line could have been inspired by his life story!) and follow him on Twitter @emikrut.
What was your first introduction to dance as an art form? My first introduction to dance was waiting for my sister at the dance studio. She was taking tap with her best friend Donna and I had to wait in the lobby for the class to finish. I noticed that they were having way more fun dancing in the studio than I was waiting for them to finish. I told my mom, "I can do that" and she signed me up for dance classes. I owe my whole dance career to the fact that dance studio lobbies are extremely boring.
What was your first real job as a dancer? Growing up in Los Angeles I was always doing little day jobs acting or dancing in commercials, videos, and industrials, small jobs that you got paid for but never lasted for more than a couple of days. The first dance job that I did that lasted for a few weeks was dancing in Disneyland's Very Merry Christmas Parade. I was 10 or 11 and had the role of one of the Lost Boys dancing with the Peter Pan float. It was a fun job dancing down the streets of Disneyland and entertaining a whole park full of guests. At the time I thought being a chimney sweep on the Mary Poppins float was the coolest thing in the world. Of course now I realize we were dancing on concrete and getting paid minimum wage, but to the 10-year-old me it was an amazing time.
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in dance? For me it was never a conscious decision to become a professional dancer, it just sort of happened. One dance job led to the next, and the next, until finally I ended up as a professional dancer. There was a lot of hard work and amazing teachers along the way, but that is pretty much how it happened. But I think the main reason I ended up a professional dancer is because that is what I am best at.
Who is your dancing idol? One of my main dance idols is Gene Kelly. He was so smooth and elegant but still came across as strong and masculine. He could do it all - sing, dance and act. He held his own against the elegance of Fred Astaire and the comedic chops of Donald O'Connor. He was also the only Hollywood presence that could force Frank Sinatra to actually rehearse. For me Gene Kelly was the best at the golden age of dance in film.
Why do you pursue your art in Nashville? What are the best parts of working here? The reason I am a dancer at Nashville Ballet is because they had the best offer when I was looking for a job out of college. I found out that I could graduate from college a year early and only had time to audition for two companies. I had offers with BalletMet and Nashville Ballet, but Nashville's offer was for $5 more a week and I took it. Plus the fact that Tennessee doesn't have a state income tax helped with my decision.
What is your dream role as a dancer? If you could dance any role...what would it be and why? My dream role was to be in Twyla Tharp's Movin' Out. It is just an amazing piece of work. The music is great, the story is powerful and the choreography is something you just want to dance.
What is the brightest spot on your resume...what role/work is your favorite? My favorite part of my resume is the totality of it. All the amazing choreographers that I have had the good fortune to work with, and the great classic works I have been able to perform. But the thing that always makes me smile is when a new student or dancer joining the company realizes that I am the bobby in the opening dance number of Austin Powers.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about dancers? The biggest misconception people have about dancers is that the think dance is just a hobby and not an occupation. Most people don't realize that being in a dance company is a 9 to 6 job, or how much effort we put into making something ready for the stage.
Who would play you in the film version of your life story? Sean Penn would be my first choice. There is an honesty in all of his performances that I am always striving to achieve.
What's your favorite work created for dancers to perform? The best piece that was created on me was a pas de deux choreographed by Frank Chaves, artistic director of River North Dance Chicago. The piece was created at National Choreographers Initiative on me and Adrienne Benz. It was a short pas, only about five minutes, but it was edited down to perfection. There were no unnecessary steps, transitions or preparations. It was just one continuous phrase of partnering. It was my favorite work that I had a hand in creating.
If you could have dinner with any three figures (living or dead, real or fictional) who are a part of the world of dance, who would you choose and why? I would love to talk with Jerome Robbins, Gene Kelly and Charlie Chaplin. They are all masters in their field and I am sure they have a bunch of great stories to tell. I would just love to hear everyone's back story from their own mouths.
Imagine a young person seeing you on stage or seeing a production in which you played a major role coming up to you and asking you for advice in pursuing their own dream...what would you say? The best advice I can give to young dancers is to be as well rounded as possible and to be honest with yourself. Now most choreography is a hybrid of different styles. If you do not work on every style of dance as you grow up, you will limit your dance career possibilities and you will never become a star on So You Think You Can Dance. You also have to be honest with your level of passion and ability. If you don't love to dance, you shouldn't be professional dancer.