Portrait of the month: Andrew Mikhaiel
Do you get nervous before going on stage? How do you fix it?
Yes, but I think the nervous adrenaline rush helps give me the right amount of energy, awareness, and drive to perform my best and stay attentive in the moment. To cope with the nerves I have to make sure my body and mind are prepared to perform. I have a specific set of pre-show warm up exercises that I always do to get my body prepared. After I warm up, I do an entire mark through of each piece I am performing so that have the choreography, directions, notes, and corrections on the forefront of my mind. Lastly, I always say a prayer before every show. That moment to myself helps me stay calm and reflect on how grateful I am to be dancing and performing.
Do you practice a sport other than dance?
Currently no, dancing at BJM is my priority and I try to keep my body strong with ballet class, as well as daily conditioning and stretching exercises. However, when I started dancing at age 10 and throughout high school I did a lot of acrobatic training. I practiced tumbling, handstand balancing, and I even dabbled in aerial silks. I am also a certified acrobatic teacher. I have always loved acrobatics and I believe my acrobatic training definitely helped with my dance training. You have to become somewhat fearless to throw yourself backwards when you are tumbling, and I believe the same thing applies in dance. While dancing you have to take risks and push yourself past your comfort zone or you will never grow as a dancer. As an acrobat you also have to be extremely calculated when you are tumbling and/or balancing. Having complete anatomical control of your body is essential. This bodily understanding directly transcends into my dancing. The way I approach my dance training is very much represented by my acrobatic upbringing.
When did you decide to pursue a career as a dancer?
Ever since I started dancing I knew that dance would somehow be a major part of my life. I fell in love with dance after my first class at age 10 and never looked back. I always knew I wanted to be a dancer, but I think finding the right training path, teachers, and mentors to accomplish that dream was the more important aspect of my journey to becoming a dancer. I moved to NYC to study dance at Marymount Manhattan College to continue my training. This was a major deciding factor in me wanting to pursue dance as a career, I knew if I really wanted to be a dancer I would have to immerse myself in my art form and continue to develop my dance education postsecondary. Two weeks after my graduation I was fortunate enough to have had my dreams come true and join BJM. I am constantly inspired and grateful to be working with such incredible artists here at BJM.
What is your favourite movie?
My favourite movie is definitely Titanic. I think I have seen the movie over a hundred times. It is the only movie I can rewatch without getting bored. If I ever see it on TV I automatically turn to that channel and watch it to the end. I am a sucker for dramatic love stories, so it is no surprise that Titanic is my favourite. Even the books I read are usually dramatic love stories.
What is the most difficult thing in the life of a dancer?
As dancers we make a lot of sacrifices in our lives to pursue this career choice. I think being away from my family is one of the most difficult things. The past four years I have lived in NYC and now live in Montreal full-time. Being away from home for extended periods of time means you miss out on a lot of family events, functions, and celebrations. I even missed my own high school graduation. My family has completely supported me pursuing dance as a career. I was fortunate enough to have had my premier performance with BJM in Toronto in front of all my family and friends. It was such a special performance for me which made all these sacrifices completely worth it.