Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-04-19
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Fabrice Calmels: The Joffrey's French connection
Extended for the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

At a sinewy six-foot-six with model-good looks ( and a French accent, to boot ) , Fabrice Calmels is used to turning heads. However, in the local dance world, Calmels is more renowned for his moves with The Joffrey Ballet, which he joined in 2002. He recently talked with Windy City Times about growing up in France, teaching dance—and eating blue-cheese burgers.

Windy City Times: There are all sorts of attitudes regarding male dancers in this country. What is it like in France?

Fabrice Calmels: I think it's similar to what's here [ in the United States ] . We are all human beings, and things are identical. There's a different language, but it's about the same thing.

I was trained and raised in the Paris Opera [ School ] ; it was basically a boarding school that I attended for 10 years. Our training was really specific and really hard; it was an Army type of thing. We built friendships, [ the teachers ] trained us hard—I think it's about the same thing.

WCT: I understand that you didn't choose dancing—it chose you.

FC: Yes. At least that's what I believe; when you're three years old, you don't decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.

Circumstances led me to dance. It was during the Gulf War, and my parents had to work double-duty. We had someone to carry my sister—who was taking ballet classes once or twice a week—and myself to school. There were [ only ] girls, and I just sat, watching. So the teacher said, 'Instead of sitting and watching, you're going to join us and dance! I'm going to make you my student.' [ Laughs ] It was great; I got a lot of attention and [ the teacher ] took really good care of me.

WCT: In a video interview, you said that [ former Joffrey Artistic Director ] Gerald [ Arpino ] was part of the reason you're in Joffrey. What did you mean by that?

FC: I got hired in 2001, but I got stuck in Paris; I couldn't get the paperwork to get into the country—Joffrey hired me the day before everything happened [ on Sept. 11, 2001 ] . Of course, at that point, Joffrey was stressed because [ the tragedy ] was really bad for business.

One day, I was in France working at The Lido—and I realized that I've got to go back to Chicago. I told my mother, and she was like, 'You're crazy! What are you doing?' [ Laughs ] I said, 'I'm going to Chicago and [ check out ] Joffrey; it's the company I want to be with.' I flew over [ here ] and Mr. Arpino was like, 'What are you doing here? Are you finally going to be with us?' He was really happy to see me and made it so that I was able to work with Joffrey. I owe him everything.

WCT: How have you grown since you've been here?

FC: A little bit before Joffrey, America gave me a lot. For 10 years in Paris, I was raised to be a classical ballet dancer—they build you to fit into a company with a specific repertoire. That's not what goes on here; it's modern and more open-minded. So when I came to the States, it was a totally different world. I feel more complete; I've learned so much since coming to the States. In Europe, the style is slower; here, it's really, really fast and explosive.

WCT: How big of an adjustment has it been since Ashley [ Wheater ] took over as artistic director?

FC: Ashley is the new director, and with a new director you have new vision. Ashley keeps Mr. Arpino's repertoire in place, but he wants to make his own mark, too. I think it's important to have something fresh; you don't want to keep going in the same [ direction ] , obviously. I've seen a change in how I've danced over the past two years.

WCT: You teach ballet as well, correct?

FC: Yes. The classes are for anyone who wants to learn ballet; I teach in French and English [ separately ] . I teach at Diversey and Western [ at Visceral Studio ] , and at Alliance Francaise de Chicago. I think there is a need to let people know how great ballet—and dance, in general—are.

WCT: When I talked with choreographer Randy Duncan about misconceptions about dancers, he said that the biggest one is that they eat very little. [ Calmels laughs. ] What do you think is the biggest misconception about dancers?

FC: He's got a good one—but you know what? There's one about me: height. When people see me on the subway, they always ask, 'Do you play ball?' A lot of people think that all ballet dancers are short. However, I do eat a lot.

WCT: I actually know you eat a lot, because I noticed while prepping for this interview that you gave a five-star rating to the blue-cheese burger at Cooper's [ a restaurant at 1232 W. Belmont ] .

FC: Yes! It has blue cheese, like the French! My best friend just bought it recently. You need a fork to finish the burger.

WCT: What's your advice to up-and-coming dancers?

FC: To be honest, I don't know. I'm 27 and there's still a way for me to go. I'm trying to see where things are going.

WCT: What does dance mean to you?

FC: Dancing is like ... when I dance, it's like a personal exile. It's a way to get away from the drama; you're taken away and you can finally breathe. It's peaceful—it's a relief.

WCT: Was there anything you wanted to add?

FC: I'm building a company. I'll dance for three or four more years, max; I don't want to be selfish about ballet. I think the world needs ballet dancers, and there are a lot of them out there. The dance world is suffocating a lot because of technology; people are slowly leaving [ the dance world ] —it's not government-funded, like in France. I'm looking for answers to help the dance world take control again. I want to help the dance world change; it won't be a dance company, but it'll involved dance.

For more about The Joffrey Ballet, see . For more about Fabrice Calmels ( including his classes ) , see .

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


DANCIN' FEATS The Post-Butoh Festival: Transgression during Chicago Dance Month 2017-04-19
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago announces 40th Anniversary Season programming 2017-04-18
Sedaris, Ginsburg, Ailey dancers part of Auditorium's season 2017-04-12
The Joffrey Ballet closes 2016-17 season with global visionaries 2017-04-11
SPRING DANCE PREVIEW Spring into dance 2017 2017-03-15
Kandyan dance events in March 2017-03-15
Isaiah Esquire talks about his role in new burlesque documentary 2017-03-15
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Dancer Sean Aaron Carmon and his 'Winning' style 2017-03-08
CFW LBTQ Giving Council hosts women's day dance 2017-03-05
Title IX guidance for transgender students revoked, groups and leaders respond 2017-02-22
The Joffrey Ballet announces 2017-18 season 2017-02-22
Trump to rescind guidance on Title IX transgender protections 2017-02-21
Trump administration may plan to rescind guidance regarding schools and trans 2017-02-20
Kodo ensemble performing Feb. 26 2017-02-16
DANCIN' FEATS Immersed in Merce at the MCA 2017-02-15
Hubbard Street Dance ED retiring 2017-02-15
World premieres in Joffrey Academy's Winning Works free weekend 2017-02-14
Alvin Ailey in town on March 22-26 2017-02-13
Movement Matters: Talking with Jenn Freeman, a.k.a. Po'Chop 2017-02-01
PERFORMANCE Bill T. Jones returns to enthrall Chicago audience 2017-02-01
Von Teese tour to kick off Feb. 1-3 2017-01-18
WINTER DANCE SPECIAL Winter dance is warming up 2017-01-18
Bill T. Jones to speak at DuSable 2017-01-18
Movement Matters: An interview with Andy Karol 2017-01-17
Bill T. Jones at DuSable Museum of African American History Jan. 27 2017-01-10
Winter salsa event Jan. 13 2017-01-05
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Reflecting on 2016 2016-12-28
DANCE A top seven in dance in 2016 2016-12-28
Joffrey in NYC March 29-April 2 2016-12-28
DANCE REVIEW Christopher Wheeldon's Nutcracker 2016-12-20
DANCE REVIEW Nutcracker 2016-12-13
Nutcracker's design team creates Wheeldon's dream 2016-12-07
Joffrey announces recipients of annual Winning Works Choreographic Competition 2016-12-06
NUNN ON ONE: PERFORMANCE Carlos Thomas 'Stomps' the yard 2016-11-22
Joffrey Ballet to present world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's The Nutcracker 2016-11-16
DANCIN' FEATS Production aims to '[Trans]form' dance community 2016-11-16
Chicago PD's Sophia Bush, Chicago Fire's Monica Raymund host Election Eve Bash 2016-11-07
Election Eve bash dance to benefit Project Vote 2016-11-02
Election Eve Bash, Dance for Democracy 2016-10-20
Queer comic artist/dancer Rosalarian makes what women really want 2016-10-19

Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.









About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.