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By Stephen Jacobs and Adam Bilski
Photograph by Megan Beh
The Knight Errant
November 13, 2012

Minnesota, USA –  Benilde St. Margaret’s freshman Peter Linder, ballet dancer for the Academy of Russian Ballet, excels with passion as a male in a mostly female dominated art form. After multiple auditions, Linder beat out the competition and obtained the lead role of the Nutcracker in the classic Christmas performance.

Each year, many ballet dancers from the Academy of Russian Ballet and other studios compete to be in the cast of the academy’s production of The Nutcracker. During his audition, judges critiqued Linder on his ballet barre workouts and an assortment of high-level combinations and jumps. At the end of the auditions, Linder gained a total of three roles in the Nutcracker in an assortment of two casts, playing both the roles of as Pas des Trois, the Snow Prince, and the Nutcracker.

In preparation for the show, Linder attends two hour practices four times a week. During practices, the dancers prepare patterns and numbers for any upcoming productions. At the beginning of each practice, the ballet dancers do a warm-up in which the instructor walks around, correcting even the slightest mistakes. “I love dance because of the preciseness, physical involvement, and the culture,” Linder said.

As the only two boys in their dance class, Linder and his younger brother are highly valued for their specific skill sets. “There are a lot more opportunities for being a male dancer in ballet. Male ballet dancers engage in a lot of jumping [and are needed for] partner support for the girls,” Linder said.

Through the Academy of Russian Ballet, Linder developed his skills from the beginnings of pre-ballet, up to his current advanced level. Practicing four days a week in the studio, Linder works on balance and technique along with anaerobic conditioning training called barre workouts. “[I usually do] different techniques with [my] arms and legs to stretch them out,” Linder said.

Although his busy schedule can be challenging, Linder continues to push himself and advance to the higher-level classes in his studio. The Academy of Russian Ballet has five different divisions to focus on varied skill levels, each can take a year or more to complete. Throughout Linder’s career, he has advanced from level one to level three, and he now practices in a combined class of level four and level five dancers. “Peter does very good, but he is not done learning,” Peter’s instructor Kirill Bak said.

Linder gathers his inspiration from Mikhail Baryshnikov, who Linder sees as one of the greatest male ballet dancers of all time. Fortunately, Linder has a head start on the famous male ballet dancer, who began dance at 12. “I got into [ballet] when I was ten. My mom wanted me to try it out,” Linder said.

Linder will perform the Nutcracker at the Eden Prairie High School Performing Arts Center December 15 and 16. “I think it is going to be very good this year,” Bak said.

Copyright 2012  Knight Errant

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