The movie “Black Swan” had me flinching in my chair and turned my stomach into knots in anticipation of what would happen next. Watching the tortured ballerina, “Nina,” whom Natalie Portman portrayed magnificently, made me wonder – Is this really what happens when the curtain goes down, or is it Hollywood?
This Thursday, January 12, at 11:15 a.m., Steven Caras, a former ballet dancer and renowned ballet photographer, will share professional and personal milestones and setbacks via compelling, uncensored tales beginning with his mock-ridden childhood and struggles with sexuality, to his days as a dancer during the true golden era of dance in America under the leadership of ballet’s towering genius, George Balanchine.
At the age of 18, Steven Caras was personally invited to join the New York City Ballet by its founder, George Balanchine. Over the next 14 years, he would dance worldwide in numerous masterworks choreographed by Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
Inspired by all aspects of his surroundings, Caras was compelled to cultivate his longtime interest in photography — a “calling” that would eventually lead to a second career. Today, The Steven Caras Dance Photography Collection (in excess of 120,000 photographs) is considered to be one of the most valuable, historically significant dance archives of all time. Featuring many of the dance world’s most celebrated artists and institutions, Caras’ images continue to appear in prominent books, publications, films, documentaries, exhibitions and private collections.
I had the opportunity to spend time with Caras over the past few months as he prepared for his presentation at LLS, and I learned a tremendous amount about what the world of ballet truly encompasses. “Black Swan” only briefly touches on how beautiful and colorful the world of ballet can be. Dancers do not always go to a dark place to prepare for a role. It is amazing what the human body can accomplish when a dancer’s heart is determined and devoted to overcoming the limitations of his, or her, mind and body.
Caras has spent practically his entire life in the world of ballet and I became curious as to what he would have done professionally had he not become a ballet dancer. He was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
What is your earliest memory of ballet dancing? My first class. I wore long underwear and bedroom slippers.
If you had not become a ballet dancer and photographer, what profession would you have chosen? Psychology
What is your favorite ballet? Anything and everything by GEORGE BALANCHINE.
Who, or what, inspires you? My faith and kind people.
I’m sure you have travelled extensively with both of your professions. What is your favorite travel destination? California, New York, South Florida, and wherever else I’m welcomed.
What is the funniest thing that happened to you while you were dancing? I farted (loudly) catching a future super-star in our student workshop performance at Lincoln Center.
What title would you choose for your memoir? Steven Caras: A Work in Progress
What do you work toward in your free time? More free time.
In a career that continues to evolve, Steven Caras continues to wear many hats — from dancer/photographer, published author, ballet master, repetiteur and director of development, to keynote speaker and producer. He plays a critical role in Palm Beach County philanthropy, serving as a trustee on a private foundation along with being the founding chairman of two local charities. For the past 18 years, Caras has been a regularly featured speaker and interview moderator at The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. In 2014, he was honored with the Career Transition for Dancers’ “Heart & Soul Award,” presented to him at their annual gala by Broadway legend Chita Rivera.
To purchase tickets for Caras’ lecture, visit www.fau.edu/llsjupiter