Jamal Rashann Callender, Ballet Hispanico
What career would you choose if you could not be a dancer? JC: If I wasn't a dancer, I would definitely have to do something involving politics. Growing up, my parents and I would watch the nightly news and after have a discussion about what we saw. It was very informative at that age, when you are understanding critical thinking. So something involving politics. What are your worst fears (professionally or personally)? JC: I strive daily to be fearless. One of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson is.... "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." I remind myself of this daily, so I remember that my true potential as an artist and as a human is the most powerful thing I have in my possession. I can't be afraid of it because it only makes me better and stronger. Which person (dead or alive) would you most want to dance with if you could? JC: I would want to dance on stage with Eric Underwood, Matthew Rushing and Desmond Richardson. That would be an explosion on stage! Some please create a quartet on us! If a child told you they wanted to be a dancer, what would your advice be? JC: I would first give them a huge hug. I would encourage them to remember throughout their studies to remember why you want to be a dancer. Remember that moment that made the whole world you saw shift. It is so important. I would tell them if they needed help or guidance that they can reach out to me. I love hearing kids wishing to be dancers, we need more. All are welcome! If you could be an animal, what animal would you choose and why? JC: A Tiger! I love how mysterious and majestic they are. What is your greatest indulgence? JC: I grew up in Barbados where the sand is white and the water is clear. There is nothing like sitting on a beach all day. When I go "home" to visit , it is one of the first things i have to do. It give me such fulfillment.
What 3 items do you always have in your bag with you? JC: Must have blister lip balm, mints and a book. Before leaving my house, I always say out loud "Cellphone-Wallet-Keys". It is a great reminder to make sure I have it all. What career would your family have chosen for you? JC: My parents are amazing. They never had a pre-conceived idea on who or what I should be. When I told them I wanted to be a dancer, they said great, how do you plan on achieving that? The choice and responsibility was always mine. They are amazing at guiding but not commanding. Such a perfect balance. What is your idea of perfect happiness? JC: Love, I love to see others happy, I love to see people smiling and enjoying life. My family, I must say, is a perfect example of happiness. When I am around family it is always a fest full of laughter and jokes. My friends, they know me so well and they can read my mind even through text messages. So scary, but I love it all
Who would you like to have a coffee with (could be dead or alive)? JC: I'm not a coffee drinker, but if I could have a drink of choice, it would have to be with President Obama. Can Michelle Obama join us as well? They are a dynamic duo and have been a part of my adult life in politics. As a President, I admire him so much. Each time I see him on TV, I see me, I see a dream, I see a vision and I see the future. What is your favorite city to tour to and why? JC: My favorite city to tour to was Havana, Cuba. Ballet Hispanico got the opportunity to perform at the International Ballet Festival there and it was incredible. The city is truly a time capsule. You have on one end the new Havana, that has been updated but you have Old Havana that hasn't changed since the 60's. The buildings are so beautiful, watching the ocean hit and even come onto the malecon. The people of Cuba really made me love the city. Everything was about celebrating and enjoying life. Dance is like any major sport in Cuba, they take high pride in it and it showed when we performed. I've always loved to drink mojitos, but after traveling to Havana, no mojito tasted as good as it did there. What was your biggest mishap in a performance? JC: My 1st season with Ballet Hispanico, I was performing a work by Ronald K. Brown. It was the last section of the piece and it was a part where we break into groups. For some reason, I completely blacked out and forgot the step that came next. So I decided to do the last step over and over again until I remembered and caught back up with the rest of the dancers. We got off stage and started laughing. To this day, some will remind me about that show, it was the funniest thing ever. Is there a special meal you have before performances? JC: It depends, generally I like to have a chicken and pasta meal before performing. Something that is light, but at the same time gives me energy for a show. When I have a lot of performances, i.e. The Joyce Theatre where we perform 17 shows in 12 days, I like to make soups. One of my favorite is a creation of mine. It's a dense soup with lentils, ground turkey, sweet potato, plantain, pasta and other ingredients. I will make a huge pot and it would last me a full week. I would take it to the theatre and have it 2 hours before the show starts.