Interview with Ballet Dancing Stars Kristina Lind & Henry Grey.

by Manuel Ringlstetter
styled by Deborah Deluca
Hair & MakeUp by Alexander Hofmann

INTERVIEW: Kristina Lind & Henry Grey about the art of movement

I met Kristina & Henry about 2 years ago at a photo shoot with the Bavarian Stateballet that I was involved in. Since then I was fascinated by the world of ballet and dancing artists. I followed them on social media and definitely wanted to meet these guys again – But this time in the studio. Just the two of them – away from the big stage of the Bavarian Stateballet where they are dancing at the moment. I wanted them two move free and creative – unlike their studied performances at show – in a way that the clothes would make them feel to move like. Normally they are both super busy and rehearsing for plays or training their bodies all the time. During the covid situation I saw the chance of getting these guys for a full day shooting and an Interview.

Deborah Deluca my Stylist on this project found two very talented young designers named BAVILLA KOVO “Carolina Viviana Wolf”  &  Silvio Agueci. We used both their collections for the shooting.

Welcome Kristina & Henry. Something I really want to know is when did you two actually become involved in dancing – could you tell us about your journey into the field ?

Kristina: My parents took me to see a performance of the ballet “Cinderella when I was 4 and I was completely obsessed with it. I started taking ballet classes after that, and since then, I’ve never stopped.

Henry: I actually started jazz when I was 5 and then I started ballet when I was 8 because my jazz teacher told me that with ballet my jazz would improve. It kind of snowballed from there and eventually took over my life. Laughs…

What is the best thing that you learned through dancing that you could transfer into your normal life?

Henry: Oh there is so many! Kristina: Yeah, there is so much

Can you share some? both laugh…

Kristina: I think the biggest thing I´ve learned from being a dancer is that I should really not set expectations. It’s natural to have the expectation that you’re going to get cast for a certain role, or that you’re going to nail a certain step. When things don’t play out the way you’ve built them up to be, that can cause a huge let down. I find that I don’t enjoy the process if I have to deal with the disappointment of un-met expectations. I think this idea of finding enjoyment, no matter the outcome, is really applicable in life.

Henry: Number one being patience. Being a professional dancer has taught me to be patient with myself and not expect to much of myself, too soon. And the second being how to be confident in yourself without external validation. The Dance Industry is really tough. Very rarely do you hear good feedback about yourself. Your teachers, your coaches, your ballet masters all just point out what´s wrong with you, so you can get better. But quite often it can really get you down that no one is actually telling you that you are moving into the right direction or no one is telling you if you have succeeded at something. You need to find that confidence within yourself!

Kristina: Takes a while to get to that point. Laughs…

Henry: Oh yeah, oh man! Laughs…

What inspires you at the moment?

Kristina: For me right now, it’s the creativity that happens when you collaborate with people. Bringing people together to create something awesome. Coming together to do this shoot today has been really special and inspiring!

What are you most proud of?

Kristina & Henry looking at each other. that´s a tough one. Yeah

Kristina: I would say, I am proud to have made it. I had this dream when I was 4 years old and now, here I am. I have been lucky to live in three different countries and dance all over the world. That´s wild!! laughs heavily… And I´m still here. Still going!

Henry: I guess we never really stop and think about that there are so many people that want to do what we do. For me it´s that I made it out. I mean I love New Zealand! But as a dancer there is not much for you there and I wanted to do more.

Well absolutely! Coming to the other side of the world at that young age and make it, that´s like the rock´n´roll dream! So yeah, you can be super proud of that and I mean it.

Did you have mentors? And if yes, in what way where they important for you?

Henry: I did actually have a couple. Finding a male teacher for male dancing students is very difficult in New Zealand. I had one when I was 9. His Name was Patrick Sanderhof. He is actually German and was a professional dancer. He mentored me a lot. It was really good to have a male dancer teaching me. There are a few more people mentoring me now. But when I was young Patrick really helped me a lot. Nowadays I would say every dancing partner you have on stage is a kind of a mentor. So I would go for you Kristina.
Kristina: Oh thank you! laughs…H
enry: I mean we dance a lot together. I learned a lot from Kristina which has much more experience than I have. Getting instant feedback from her helped me lot to develop as a dancing artist.

That’s definitely a nice compliment to Kristina.
What about you Kristina, who helped you along your path and could be called a mentor?

Kristina:  I trained at  a very small school close to where I grew up in California. My teachers both had professional careers, so they knew the ballet world very well. They were able to guide me through their experience to get to a level where I could really “make it.” I’m grateful to have had their guidance during those foundational years of training. From there, I went on to join the trainee program at the San Francisco Ballet School. It’s a group of 12 dancers who are at the stage of finishing their training and preparing to join a professional company. My director, Jean-Yves Esquerre was a huge mentor to me during that time, and has been throughout my career. As a teacher, he really helped me polish my technique, and his influence guided me to develop into a more mature person. Whenever I’m looking for career or artistic advice, I know I can always reach out to him.

What was the funniest moment you had ever on stage?

Kristina:  It was my first season in Amsterdam. The company did not know me that well. We were performing “Giselle” on tour, and we were in these long, tulle skirts. I was one of the Willis who pulls Hilarion backwards, and as I did, he stepped on my skirt, ripped it, and fell on top of me. This is the main thing going on during this scene, so that’s embarrassing enough as it is! When I regained composure, I could feel that my skirt was torn and hanging down on the floor. Next, I had to get off stage with the other 16 girls, all doing the same jumping sequence. I knew I was going to step on my skirt and eat it. I made it through a few rounds of jumps, and right as I got to the front of the stage, I felt the skirt under my shoe… I took off for the jump, and landed flat on my back. I literally heard the audience go: Ohhh! Laughs...Everyone saw it coming and felt it. Yeah, that was my introduction to the Dutch National Ballet!

What was your favourite part or your favourite outfit at this shooting today?

Kristina: My favorite outfit was your floral suit. Pointing with a smirk at Henry. it was amazing. Henry: Oh really!

Kristina: Yeah, I was kind of jealous! Laughs

Henry: My favorite outfit were those really long pants that I had on.

Manuel: The ones you ripped open?? Henry: not the one I broke! The ones with the extra fabric around that were really lose and we created this kind of “sun-god” moment, do you remember?

Yeah sure, that was great!

Kristina: I also really enjoyed just getting to improvise with you.

Henry: Yeah that was fun! We’ve never done that before.

Kristina: We have never done that.

Henry: See our job doesn’t allow us to these things.

Kristina: We never get to be creative like this.

You both are still so young. But I wanna ask the question. What comes after – being a world class ballet dancer in your twenties?

Henry: Thinks for while…Depression? laughs…oh that comes before…laughs.

Kristina: I think about it a lot, and I don’t really have an answer. I think when it’s time, something will pop up, and that will be the new direction to go in.  I am actually working on my college degree in liberal arts. I’ve been working on it for ten years now. laughs...It takes a long time when you do one class at a time!

Henry: I´m really interested in politics and study politics. But I don’t think I could be a politician because I don’t have the character for that and could not stand what they have to go through. But being an activist. Working for a non profit. Working as a policy adviser for politicians could be something I would be interested in. But at the same time I would like to pursue writing more and actually make something of it. I think when you retire as a dancer you don’t stop being an artist – don’t think that ever really leaves you. But I think for me it would be more going into a different medium.

The corona virus has hit us all over the world and most of us pretty hard and unprepared. I guess all of your shows where cancelled in the last months, right? How did you get through this covid-19 situation so far?

Henry: Alcohol! Netflix! And Marijuana! Laughs…just kidding. Honestly I have no idea. I really have no fucking idea how I got through this! When the lock down happened I immediately tried to go home, found out that it was not possible it wasn’t allowed. New Zealand closed down all it’s borders. It was actually my worst nightmare being stuck in my apartment alone by myself for months without seeing anyone doing anything. Without dancing – without performing. I have no idea how i got throgh this.

Kristina: Just before the lockdown happened, we were rehearsing “Swan Lake”.  I was preparing to make my debut in the main role, which I was excited about, but also feeling completely exhausted. The fact that the world shut down, given how I was feeling at the time, happened to be a huge release of pressure for me. I feel fortunate that my mindset allowed me to treat this forced break as a chance to stop and take care of myself, and I got to enjoy spending more time with my husband and our dogs. The extra time really felt like a gift. Although, the uncertainty was a lot to deal with. Not knowing – anything- really. What it meant for our jobs. What it meant for our health, our families. That was really stressful, but the actual time of quarantine was more positive for me.

Thank you Kristina & Thank you Henry for your time and this awesome day with lots of interesting insights from your side. I really enjoyed working with you and I´m looking forward seeing you guys in a Ballet Performance at the Bavarian Stateballet soon.

By Manuel Ringlstetter  / /

styled by Deborah Deluca /  /

Hair & Make up by Alexander Hofmann  / 

Artists: Kristina Lind /

Henry Grey /