Hiya to everyone at Dance Consortium! This is Jack Furlong Jr. writing to you from my apartment in the lovely, but humid city of New York! Some quick background information about me; I am 25 years old, I joined Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo in September 2014, making me the newest member of the ‘Trocks’ and my ballerina name is Guzella Verbitskaya, which I love!
It has been nearly 6 weeks since we returned from our month long tour in the stimulating and interesting country of Japan. Since being back in NYC it’s been a nice balance of staying in shape, seeing friends and family, having fun around the city, and of course a lot of well-deserved rest.
A day after we landed in NYC from Tokyo I packed my bags again and headed to San Francisco to attend the wedding of a family friend with my parents. It was so nice to spend time with my family; all I had to do was eat good food, relax with them, see San Francisco, and watch a lovely couple unite in marriage. Even though I had fun during my week in San Fran, I was very excited to get back to NYC, to get back to the studio and to see friends.
I am a super lucky guy, since I did my training in Manhattan, whenever I am back in the city or on a break, I can train with my old teachers. I did my training at the Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory of New York, which is run by the former Bolshoi and NYCB Principal, Valentina Kozlova. In the first week of August she held a week long intensive, which I participated in. It was great to take amazing, passionate classes with my teacher. We spent the second half of each day working on several variations (en pointe). Valentina coached us all not on just the technical aspects of these variations but the details and artistry that goes in the depth of the movements.
The focus of that week was the ‘Waltz’ and the ‘Mazurka’ variations from the ballet, Chopiniana, which was perfect since that ballet is in the ‘Trocks’ repertoire; we will be performing this lovely, romantic ballet while we are in the UK! Working on these variations was quite taxing, not just on the body but definitely on the mind, as each movement has a specific placement that needs honest control in order to express the ethereal idea of the ballet. It was an amazing challenge and Valentina even had me work on some bonus variations: the variation from Grand Pas Classique, and the black swan variation; I much prefer Grand Pas Classique. What was also very fun was to have a guest come take some classes with me at my home studio, Matthew Poppe, or otherwise known as Doris Vidanya, graced the red garnet walls of Valentina Kozlova’s with his smile and great work ethic. It was so nice to have my colleague there with me!
On a side note, I was also offered the job as the Program Manager for Valentina’s foundation, which runs the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition. I am very excited to be working for this foundation, in just four years they have given over $900k in scholarships, company contracts, and commissions to young talents. For more information check out our website. (www.vkibc.org)
Though, it was nice to get some ballet training in on my weeks off, it was also time to catch up with my amazing friends. Since the ballet world is quite an international one, we all have friends in different companies all around the world. I was lucky enough to catch up with some of them right here in New York. My friend John, who dances with Vienna Festival Ballet, spent August in NYC, we were able to catch up and explore this super fun city. We met on one of my tours with the ‘Trocks.’ Dancing with the ‘Trocks’ you get to meet so many different, amazing people; I am so thankful to be able to meet all these people, people who are kind and show me their unique cultures. One of my best friends, Veronika, who is a dancer with Stuttgarter Ballett, was home for a few weeks before her season started. We grew up in the same school (her parents being two of my teachers), so it was great to be able to relax and see other dance friends who live around the world. Veronika and I have been able to see each other while I was on tour in the Netherlands (she was dancing with Het Nationale Ballet) where she met her friend Therese, now with Grand Rapids ballet. It is truly so cool so be able to see your best friends in gorgeous foreign cities, while you are there doing what you love. We spent a lovely evening having Ukrainian food and drinks and catching up. The ballet world is quite small, so there were loads to chat about!
On my weeks off, I like to find small jobs in order to take up my time and earn some play money. For two of the weeks off I worked at Broadway.com and at an Irish construction management company. Each time I work these jobs I learn something new and always have a fulfilling experience. Since, Broadway.com handles ticket sales for the shows on Broadway they gave me tickets to see, Chicago, the musical; I was able to take two friends. I brought my friend John and Jessie and we had a marvelous time!
So, between balancing relaxing and dancing I had an amazing time on our time off, but I was super happy to be back in the studio. We started back last Monday and the rehearsals have been very productive. I am looking forward to our last week of rehearsals before we fly out on Friday!
Looking forward to dancing for all of you and hope to meet some new, friendly faces!
For now, all my best,
Jack Furlong Jr. aka Guzella!