TAHOE CITY, Calif. — This Thursday, the dancers of Tahoe Youth Ballet will share the stage with a very special guest artist, Kristina Berger.Ms. Berger has toured internationally as a performer and teacher; she is a principal dancer with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company and teacher of Horton technique.To introduce our audience to Kristina, I thought I’d ask her a few fun questions. See you at the Park on Thursday evening!CH: What was the thing that inspired you most as a young dancer?KB: As a young dancer, Dance immediately struck me as the skill that would bring me closest to the cosmos. There was nothing more magical to me than using movement to tell stories, any stories! Or even just to transfer an idea, thought, or feeling to the audience through various characters, without speaking, was mesmerizing and still is, ha! It always seemed to make the world a little more beautiful and interesting, and to be a part of that was very exciting to me! The balance of power, grace, and elegance would enable me to be anything from a Princess to a Warrior to a Monkey King, and it has!CH: How do you find teaching and working with aspiring artists changes your own outlook in the studio/on stage?KB: Working with young aspiring artists is the most rewarding gift as a performing and teaching artist, and certainly as a choreographer as well. It is a full exchange, and I find that I grow more from each experience, regardless of level or age of the dancers I am working with. Encouraging each individual to discover their own way of saying something through movement while working to stay cohesive as an ensemblein support of each other is the balance we are always looking for. I love watching their minds grow and expand as they push their limits. Making sure the young artists understand that individuality is celebrated and encouraged opens up new ways for me to explore that for myself as well, when I am performing, choreographing and teaching.CH: What do you love about the technique of Lester Horton more so than other techniques of modern dance?KB: The incredible balance of pure athleticism with the quiet subtlety influenced by South East Asian Dance (detailed use of the hands and eyes), along with extreme elongation of the body in space is what initially attracts me to the technique that Lester Horton created. The contrasts in extremes are limitless! My teachers and dear friends Don Martin, Frank Eng, and Milton Myers always speak about the incredible power of subtlety, the beauty of a crystal clear head isolation or eye glance. Then within seconds you are spiraling in and out of the floor, ascending and descending through deep hinges and carrying out pure feats of sheer power. That is the most exciting thing in the world to me! Balances of length, strength, and flexibility in ALL directions.CH: One fun story from your days at the Barnum andamp; Bailey circus?KB: Well, I did think it was rather amusing, when my first time in the arena (the three ring circus stage of the Greatest Show on Earth that is!), after auditions, call backs, training with the dance captain, and finally feeling ready and dazzled up in my sparkling pink and red glittery outfit with feathers on my head, fishnets on my legs and high heels on my feet ... that as soon as I took my first leg kick, an elephant decided to give me a grand welcome to the show by sneezing all over me! Elephant sneezes are no joke, please do consider the difference in schnoz size between them and humans. I was literally hosed with elephant snot and had three more hours to go in that show without a shower. Fabulous. A grand honor, when I look at it now, really!— Christin Hanna is Artistic Director of Tahoe Youth Ballet.
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