January 24 @ 7:30 pm
Michael Langlois began studying ballet at the age of ten, convinced it would catapult him from Pop Warner directly into the NFL. Eventually forced to choose between football and ballet, he looked at his less-than-five-foot frame and decided ballet might be a more practical option. He went on to train at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the School of American Ballet in New York before being offered a job at American Ballet Theatre by the foremost dancer of the 20th century: Mikhail Baryshnikov.
B Plus, Dancing for Mikhail Baryshnikov at American Ballet Theatre is an intimate look at the upper echelons of the dance world as it appeared to a young man who made it to the top of his profession only to discover a vast plateau filled with dancers whose talents and ambitions were often superior to his own.
While he struggles to move beyond playing toy soldiers and happy, clueless peasants in ABT’s corps de ballet, he wonders what to do about his best friend who is in love with him, how to please his world-famous boss, and just how little you have to eat in a ballet company before anyone notices you.
After sixteen years as a professional, he comes to some important realizations about himself and ballet in general. “What makes ballet so intensely satisfying and beautiful to me,” he writes, “is that it is so spare. There are no props. There are no instruments that have to be manipulated. It is just the dancer at that moment, and whoever they are and whatever they are capable of doing exists then and only then.”
*This event is free, but requires registration on Eventbrite. Books & Books honors those who take the time to register for tickets, in advance, and will be checking tickets at the door. First come, first served. Seats are guaranteed until 15 minutes before the start of the talk, at 7:15pm, when we open up any seating that is still available to everyone.
About the Author
Like most dancers in America, I started my ballet training in a small local studio run by a tireless soul who worked long hours and made little to no money. That soul was Paul Wallace and without people like him there would be no Baryshnikov’s or Kirkland’s or dancers in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. And again, like many ballet dancers, before finishing high school I was leaving home and moving to New York City to train at The School of American Ballet. My professional career began a couple of years later. When I was eighteen I was offered the role of Tadzio in San Francisco Opera’s production of Death in Venice. Subsequently, I joined ATER Balleto, in Reggio Emila, Italy, and in 1980 was offered a job at American Ballet Theatre by Mikhail Baryshnikov, the company’s new director. After six years in the corps de ballet at ABT I left to dance more important roles with Ballet du Nord in France. Once those satisfactions were behind me, I returned to New York to dance with Feld Ballet then worked at a succession of dance jobs in New York, Boston, and abroad. At age thirty-four, after sixteen years as a professional, I said goodbye to the performing life to devote attention to my studies at Brown University. Since 2004 I have been a regular contributor to Ballet Review, a quarterly dance publication in New York. I currently live in Miami where I make my living as a massage therapist.