Super Kid: Christian Poppe of Lake Stevens, the mechanics of ballet
Dan Bates / The Herald
Christian Poppe has immersed himself in ballet.
Dan Bates / The Herald
Homelink alternative school senior Christian Poppe has immersed himself in ballet.
Dan Bates / The Herald
Graced with a naturally lithe physical stature and a desire to dance, Homelink Alternative School senior Christian Poppe.
A: I like learning. I've always done best in mathematics, but I can do the other stuff well enough.
Q: Do you have a favorite math class or type of math?
A: I really liked trigonometry, a lot actually.
Q: Do you think you may choose a math-related field for your career?
A: Possibly. I'm looking at mechanical engineering. I've always been fascinated by machines, particularly cars, and have some interest in airplanes. I was told there are other types of engineering out there, but I've also been told that mechanical engineers tend to be more well rounded.
Q: I heard that when you're not busy with school, you're probably dancing.
A: Yes, dance has been a part of my life since I was about 5-years-old. I started out in tap dance. When I was 10, the school had been shut down, and I had just started ballet. When the school closed I switched schools to the Cornish College preparatory dance program down in Seattle, and I took classes there for four or five years, and then the new director recommended I switch to Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Q: Why did you switch to PNB?
A: Cornish is a great school, but they're not as big of a school and they don't have very many men. I needed to take class with other guys in order to learn how to do guy stuff, so that's why I'm now with the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. I like it very much I'm glad I ended up there.
Q: What are you working on at the school?
A: We just finished the school production of "Pinocchio" which was a fabulous production. I am in level eight there, which is the highest level in the school and the next level up is kind of a transition stage from the school to the professional company, and there's a possibility I'll be in that level next season.
Q: Do you go through tryouts?
A: I had to formally audition for the school before I could be admitted, but in general they do a reevaluation toward the end of the year. If you aren't going to make the cut they generally ask you to leave.
Q: What part did you play in "Pinocchio"?
A: I was in Neptune's court. Not a particularly important role, but as I've learned every role is important even though it might not be the most visible role.
Q: Have you been in other productions?
A: I've done other minor roles in PNB's company productions. I was a servant when they did "Cinderella," and I was a rat in the battle scene when they did "The Nutcracker."
Q: How often do you practice ballet?
A: We have technique class daily except for Sunday. During productions when we have a performance on a Sunday we have a class on stage. Typically a technique class takes up an hour and a half. Sometimes it can take longer. On Thursdays we have what is called a pas de deux class, which is a partner class.
Q: Is dancing with a partner difficult?
A: It's not as easy as it looks. It's not as hard on the guy's arms as you'd think it is; it's actually mostly in the legs. A lot of the work is being done by the girl too. The girl has to work very hard to stay rigid in order to make the lift easier for the guy. Another thing that's also difficult for partners at times is to trust each other because if they don't trust each other it will never work.
Q: What are doing this summer?
A: This summer I am going to the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto to train there. The school is called Canada's National Ballet School. I don't really know what to expect.
Q: What keeps you motivated to dance when it gets tough?
A: I think the biggest thing that keeps me motivated is that I made it this far. Only a small percentage of people make it into a company, and I'm almost there at this point. Another thing is that I can always find inspiration in other dancers. The thing that kept me from quitting all together when I was 12 was a principal dancer that I met at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. He liked my dancing, and that's the reason I did not quit.
Q: Where would you like to go after you graduate?
A: I would like to be enrolled at the University of Washington, but if I go to PNB at their professional division next season then it's more likely I'll probably end up at Seattle University because they're fairly close by and have a program to allow their students and company members to take classes.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: Hopefully in a ballet company, but definitely still doing academic school.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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