Dylan Tedaldi: Physical thinking
Dylan Tedaldi is making waves as he rises through the ranks of the National Ballet of Canada. After being promoted to second soloist in 2013, a mere three years into his tenure with the company, Dylan has taken on roles that dancers dream of. From Stanislav in the Canadian premiere of Nijinsky by John Neumeier to a solo performance in the 2014 Mad Hot Gala, it is obvious the he is a revered member of the company. We took the time to get to know and photograph Dylan as he prepared for his role in the mixed programme of Physical Thinking, where he challenged himself with contemporary pieces largely based around playing with classical movements.
Interview by Alana Bartolini | Photography by Daniel Neuhaus
Alana Bartolini: Let’s start at the beginning. You’re a Boston, Massachusetts native, so how did your journey with the National Ballet begin?
Dylan Tedaldi: I was born in Boston and I started dancing there when I was seven years old. Then when I was nine, I started at the Boston Ballet School. It wasn’t until I spent a year dancing in Hamburg, Germany that I moved to Canada with the National Ballet.
AB: What was it like living and dancing in Germany?
DT: It was definitely an eye opening experience. I had never lived outside of North America so it was a big change for me, but it opened my eyes to new aspects of dance that I’d never been exposed to before. When I moved to the National Ballet, I definitely felt more prepared to be a professional dancer because of my experiences there.
AB: Did you notice a difference in the German dance culture versus the Canadian?
DT: I sometimes find that dance in North America is centered on entertaining the audience, and that might seem more evident because of shows like So You Think You Can Dance. In Europe, the choreographers didn’t place the same emphasis on that aspect. They seemed to be dedicated to creating something that they found exciting, which the audiences responded well to, since we often danced to a packed house.
AB: How did you get your start with the National Ballet of Canada?
DT: At the time, while I was still in Hamburg, I wasn’t sure of my future in dance professionally. I was applying for various Universities and at the same time auditioning for dance companies around Europe. I quickly made up my mind that my focus should stay on dance, even though many of the companies in Europe thought I was too short. Then Lindsay Fischer and Karen Kain came to the Hamburg Ballet School to watch one of my evaluation classes and from there they offered me a contract for the Apprentice Program with The National Ballet of Canada.
AB: As a frequent attendee of the ballet, it was exciting to see you be promoted to a second soloist in 2013. Was that a pivotal moment for you?
DT: It was such an exciting moment for me! When you’re younger, the first big step is just getting a contract into a company and that’s what you focus on. After you’ve achieved that, you’re just thrilled to have a contract somewhere. Then you begin to crave more. I think everyone wants some sort of confirmation that they are doing the right thing, improving and becoming a dancer that people value, so I was definitely shocked when I was promoted but thrilled.
AB: Have there been specific roles or performances that attributed to your promotion to a second soloist?
DT: Last year we performed Nijinski and I played the brother Stanislav. It was one of the more serious roles that I’ve ever portrayed. It involved some acting, really intense dancing and I think it was a turning point in my dance career here.
AB: Looking back on your repertoire, was there a role that challenged you both physically and mentally?
DT: I performed the male principle in Theme & Variations, which was a huge challenge for me since it’s a very classical ballet. I tend find that contemporary is more natural to me. I love classical works but it’s more like taking on an Olympic event. So needless to say, Theme & Variations was a very difficult ballet, but it helped me grow a lot as a classical ballet dancer and hopefully that was something that people recognized.
AB: The National Ballet’s Summer Season opens with a mixed programme titled Physical Thinking. Can you tell us a little more about the diversity of this mixed programme?
DT: This program has three smaller works: Spectre de la Rose, Opus 19/The Dreamer, and the second detail. They’re all contemporary in nature, keep in mind the word “contemporary” can mean many different things. I would say Spectre de la Rose is a very physical piece. It has sharp, spastic movements, which is different from the work that we usually do. It was a huge challenge for the dancers involved, but I think the audience who knows the company well, appreciated it.
the second detail, is an extremely fun piece to dance and we haven’t performed it in the Four Season Center in almost 4 years. It has a strong base in classical movement, but it’s very contorted and plays with the limits of the body doing classical movement. We usually start with a position that is classical and then extend it past the limits into something really strange and weird. The music is exciting with drums and synths, the set is very pale and muted and our movements are clearly visible. It’s a piece the audience can sink its teeth into because everything is layout out on the stage for everyone to see.
Opus 19/The Dreamer is the most classical. It is a Jerome Robbins ballet and it’s one of my favorite neo-classical pieces. The movement seems more contained that the two other pieces but there are moments that allow the dancers to break out of the classical boundaries.
For those who don’t attend the ballet as often, it’s an exciting ballet to watch because you get to experience three different bodies of work.
AB: Are you looking forward to the rest of the summer season?
AB: Final thoughts, what do you hope the future will entail for you?
DT: I’m definitely very happy and settled in Toronto. I feel like my friends in the company have become my family and I know that the company is working really hard to get us onto the international stage. I think this company is a wonderful place to be, so needless to say, I see myself being here for a while and dancing as much as I can.
Dylan will be performing the world premiere of a solo piece entitled Dance Me To The End Of Love choreographed by Guillaume Côté in tonight’s Annual Mad Hot Gala. Tickets are still available here.