Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Meet Martin ten Kortenaar of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company

Martin ten Kortenaar
Photo Robin DePuy
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2014
Reproduced with kind permission of the Dutch
National Ballet

Martin was born in Toronto. His mother introduced him to ballet. He used to figure skate and was always dancing around the house, so she thought he might like ballet. He was reluctant at first but she persuaded him to try a private class at one of the studios in his home town. “That's how it all started”, he said “although I don't think I really grew to love ballet until a year or so later.” At first he studied in a small studio called the Royal City School of Ballet, in Guelph, Ontario, which is where he grew up. After about half a year he entered Canada's National Ballet School, where he trained for 5 years.

When I asked him whether he had been inspired by a particlar dancer or choreographer he replied: “I'm not sure if I can say I'm inspired by one dancer, or one choreographer. Every time I see beautiful dancer or a beautiful ballet, I think I'm inspired. There is so much talent in the dance world, and whenever I get the chance to see an amazing dancer or ballet I feel that it fuels my passion for dance, and reminds me why I love to dance.” I also asked him whether he had a favourite dancer or choreographer. He said: “I think this is similar to the earlier question, because I don't think I can say I have absolute favourites. There are so many incredible dancers that I have been lucky enough to see, and I don't think that I can pick out just a few to call my favourites.”

I asked Martin whether he had been inspired by a teacher to which he replied: “I had a teacher while still at school in Toronto, named Sergiu Stefanschi, who was a real inspiration. He has been teaching for many years, and he has so much wisdom to impart on his students. He had a story for every single step you would do, and every story he would tell us always had so much history and inspiration in it.”

When I asked him what was his greatest achievement to date?, he replied modestly: “As I'm still at the beginning of my professional career I haven't had so many major achievements yet. I think one thing that I am very proud of was winning the Hnatyshyn Developing Artist's Grant, which is a grant that is awarded every year to the most promising young Canadian dancers.” I should add that Martin also won the Peter Dwyer Award in 2012 and the Glenn Gilmour Award in 2013.

Martin danced in a variety of roles at school, including Prince Albrecht in Giselle Act II and Prince Desire in Sleeping Beauty. As an apprentice with the National Ballet of Canada, he got to dance as a knight in Act I of Swan Lake, which he found a great role to do.

As for the future he replied:
“There are many many ballets that I hope to dance in, both classical and contemporary. One ballet that has always stuck with me is Onegin. I would absolutely love to dance either the title role, or the role of the young poet Lensky. I would really love to dance Romeo, in Romeo and Juliet.” 
He thought his immediate ambitions were probably very similar to those of most dancers of his age in that he hoped to reach the level of principal one day. However, his very first goal is to make it into the main and then take it day by day from there. He had not thought much about the longer term as he was just beginning his dance career. He had thought about teaching: 
“Whenever I've gotten the chance to assist a teacher or a colleague I've found it quite enjoyable. However I'm sure that as I grow older I will find inspiration in other things and maybe find a career completely separate from ballet. For now though I'm just focusing on my immediate career.”
Outside ballet he has always been quite interested, “possibly surprisingly” (his words not mine because I can think of many dancers who are also good sportsmen or sportswomen including one of the teachers at Northern Ballet who ran the London Marathon), in sports like American football, and soccer. 
“When I was still unsure as to whether I wanted to do ballet, my backup plan was actually that I would do football instead.” 
Another of Martin’s interests is drawing though he says that he is not very good. I am sure that is another example of Martin’s modesty.
I have yet to meet Martin but he comes over as a really good bloke. I can’t wait to see him dance and I wish him all the best.

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