We had the incredible pleasure of sitting down with Brandon Alley, who is new to Ballet BC this season. Brandon moved to Vancouver in July of this year from L.A. where he had been dancing with BODYTRAFFIC. Already Brandon has blown us all away. He is so excited, respectful, open, willing, hungry, thoughtful, and kind, which makes us all very happy that he found Ballet BC. Here is a chance for you to meet him before seeing him on stage in November. We think he is really special and exciting, so without further ado we give you Brandon!
What is your middle name and where did it come from?
My middle name is Lee. I was actually named after a movie star back in the nineties (Brandon Lee). My mother was watching a movie called ‘the crow’, and fell in love with the actor. Also, he is actually Bruce Lee’s son (who is one of my biggest idols) and I kind of like to think of Bruce as my godfather.
How do you prefer to express yourself?
I believe that dance has always been a pure release of emotions, and intentions for me. I love to be physical, and I believe that body language is one of the purest forms of communication.
Where do you feel like you did the most growing up?
I grew up in Asheboro, North Carolina, kind of the middle of the state. It’s where the zoo is, actually. It’s a very small town. I was born in Eden, North Carolina then moved around a lot. I moved to Asheboro when I was around 11, and began dancing in high school at Eastern Randolph. The dance program was the only one in the whole county, which is crazy! I feel like my entire childhood was 40 years long. I was forced to grow up and kind of understand pain and love all at the same time. There are so many memories, happy and sad, that informed me about myself and my surroundings. But if I had to choose a specific time period, I would say since I was about 14 until now. I had just found dance, and was completely immersed in that world. I learned a lot about myself, and became tuned in with the wide open life of an artist.
So in terms of training where did you go from there?
I started to take ballet classes 30 or 40 minutes from where I was living. It was during a summer program. I took some classes with Greensboro Ballet, and they offered me a scholarship to their summer intensive. Mr. D. and Mrs. Mayfield were welcoming and extremely pivotal teachers who bridged the gap for me between being a student and a professional. The following school year I was going there two or three times a week; then I auditioned for North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA). I was super lucky and was accepted into their contemporary program for my senior year in high school.
Where did you go next?
The year after, during the spring of my year at NCSA, I did a collaboration with Hubbard Street 2 (the feeder company to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago). We were working with choreographer Maurya Kerr, and it was life changing! She brought out more in me than anything I could’ve imagined. We had the chance to perform with the second company, and that is how I originally met the director of HS2, Taryn Kaschock Russell. I auditioned for the summer intensive that season under her recommendation, and I got in. That whole summer I worked my ass off, and loved every minute of it. Going to Chicago for the first time was amazing, and super hot. The apartment I was staying at had no central air, so I was sweating buckets every night. I was offered a contract during the summer intensive. I couldn’t believe it, and accepted it fairly quickly. Everything happened so fast, dancing completely consumed my life. Being 17 and living on my own for the first time, in a new city, was intense. Working and dealing with bills and all of life’s logistics was challenging for sure. Unfortunately, in the end, things didn’t work out to for me to join the main company in Chicago, but through a series of other auditions I heard about and met the directors of BODYTRAFFIC, in L.A.. My first process there was a four week creation with Victor Quijada, and I ended up staying on after that. I liked the work there, and had the chance to be a part of building some really fun pieces. Unfortunately, I didn’t really vibe with the city of L.A.. I just knew in my heart that it wasn’t the right place for me in this phase of my life.
What is something you think will never go out of style?
HIP-HOP… it can transform and elevate as a whole, but it will never lose its beauty or freshness. Hip-hop is one of the biggest influences of this generation for me.
Why is dance important to you?
I truly believe dance can be super spiritual. Expressing through movement can elevate the senses, and bring so much euphoria to the human body. Dancing is the celebration of life! It also celebrates the purity within ourselves, whether we are happy or sad, movement releases these emotions. It’s like a bright light illuminating the truth within ourselves. Movement is life, so dancing just amplifies our presence in this universe.
Which people throughout your dance career so far have been the most influential?
There’ve been quite a few people who have been influential in my life and I feel thankful for the information they’ve given me and for pushing me.
My very first teacher, Britt Allen, who was teaching at my public high school, took me under her wing and has been a huge blessing. She has been by my side from day one.
Maurya Kerr, her energy and her vibe is so powerful. Working with her changed my idea of what a creative process could be.
Terry and Taryn (directors of HS2) are like parents to me. They gave me so much information. Taryn gave me the job which started my whole career!
Gregory Dolbashian, who I worked with at HS2. Creating with him was like looking in the mirror. I felt so open and willing during his process. He’s kind of been like an older brother from then on.
Alonzo King, I had the pleasure of taking his three hour ballet class, which was SUPER intense, and a separate three hour movement workshop. I really clicked with him because he’s all about honesty. Alonzo just wants to see nothing but your truthful self in the space expressing.
What attracted you to Ballet BC originally?
My roommate in Chicago told me about Ballet BC. I watched every one of their videos, and after finishing them, I was so excited about the company. The way Emily talked about dance, movement and pushing the edge of things really excited me. She seemed so passionate and loving towards her artists.
You’ve been here for a couple of months now and we love having you in the studio. We admire your intensity and focus. Is intensity something you’re drawn to?
Yes, physicality is a special sort of feeling for me. I love when movement is pushed past the extreme, whether it’s more massive or internal. I believe that life is intense, and it shouldn’t be recognized as a scary thing, but utilized to break down walls.
When are you most productive?
I’m definitely more personally productive late in the night. I’ve started to become a night owl. The slower pace of the night jump starts my creative brain, and I’m relaxed enough to let it kind of spill out.
If you met your double in a dark alley what would you say to them?
Well I think I would say many things but here is what comes to mind first:
First, to love yourself as hard as possible. Nothing will ever feel as it should, if you do not shine a light on your own heart.
Second, to stay completely open and courageous. Life is about opportunities and experiences, so enjoy all of them.
Third, be yourself. No one has ever been exactly where you are right here and now, or ever will be. Create your own legacy, and share it without holding back.
Finally, remember that love is a very powerful thing. Share it honestly with as many people as possible.
Where do you go to disappear?
My room! I either listen to music, or make my own. When I disappear I’m usually creating things, or just trying to focus on staying in tune with myself.
What expression do you use the most?
“YOOOOO!” Everyday, all day… I use it to greet most people, or even as a compliment. The tone I use it in can morph its meaning.
Video by Peter Smida.
-C+A Consulting Artists
Make sure to catch Brandon’s on-stage premiere with Ballet BC and our first shows of the new season November 5-7 at the the Queen Elizabeth Theater! Tickets at balletbc.com.
ALSO, we are thrilled to be the first to announce that Brandon has self published his first book of poetry!! Check it out here http://www.bookemon.com/book_read_flip.php?book_id=529431