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Interview with WBC 2017 Bronze Medalist: Gabriele Lukasik

We recently chatted with Gabriele Lukasik who captivated the judges and received the Bronze Medal at the 2017 World Ballet Competition Finals. She shared everything from how she trained for the World Ballet Competition, who made her costumes, and how she kept her nerves from affecting her performances. 

Interview Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gabriele Lukasik

Pictured: Gabriele Lukasik

Tell us about your preparation for the World Ballet Competition. What dance school did you train at and who coached you?

Gabriele: In preparation for the competition, I trained at Classic Dance Academy in Colorado. I was coached primarily by Michelle Dolighan-Rodenbeck, but also had several privates with Staci Kinkead-Fox, Heather Marsh-Schieck, Catherine Board, and Maria Mosina. Now, however, I train with Colorado Ballet's Pre-Professional Division.

How often did you have private lessons and what regular classes did you take?

Gabriele: I began to rehearse for World Ballet Competition in September, as I was also competing my variations at other competitions. I began with an hour private every week to rehearse my classical solos, and half an hour for my contemporary piece. As the competition neared, particularly beginning in April, I rehearsed for about two or three hours each week, with the amount of rehearsal time increasing in the few weeks before the competition. In addition to my rehearsals, I took about five or six hour-and-a-half ballet technique classes, two hour-long contemporary/lyrical classes, and an hour-and-a-half-long pointe class per week (I trained in other styles as well, such as tap, hip-hop, jazz, etc).

Did you rent or have your costumes made?

Gabriele: I purchased my costumes from an online retailer located in China. The company called, Ali Express, had a variety of professionally-made performance tutus for sale, which you could select and have made based on your measurements. My teacher and I looked through the website and chose the costumes we thought best fit my variations, gave them my measurements, and had the tutus custom-made.

Gabriele Lukasik

Pictured: Gabriele (right) poses backstage with her Ensemble group

Were you nervous before competing? If so, how did you calm your nerves?

Gabriele: I was definitely nervous before competing; not only is it nerve-wracking to perform a solo onstage, but I was also being judged by my performances. To calm my nerves, I reminded myself that I was prepared and well-rehearsed. I also thought of a quote that a dance teacher once told me: “When you go onstage, you have nothing to prove - only to share.” This saying helped me to remember that, although I was being judged, my goal should be to make the audience feel something and to share my passion for dance.

Gabi 8

Pictured: Gabriele Lukasik performing her contemporary solo "Saturn"

 What do you think of the World Ballet Competition's instantaneous scoring system and the online broadcast? Did your friends from back home watch you?

Gabriele: I was a huge fan of the instantaneous scoring system and online broadcast. The scoring system was very transparent and fair, and it was clear that everyone was considered and judged equally. My friends and family from all over the world were able to support me through the online broadcast, and they really enjoyed being able to watch and be a part of the competition from afar.

What did you think of the Master Class Workshop and the daily warm up classes?

Gabriele: I thought that the Master Class Workshop and the daily warm-up classes were very helpful. I loved taking classes with new teachers, and it was fun to dance with inspiring dancers from all over the globe. I learned a lot by watching the other competitors, and by gaining knowledge from world-renowned teachers and professionals.

Gabi 4

Pictured: Gabriele Lukasik

 There are several competition rounds in the WBC, who chose the order of your solos for the competition? 

Gabriele: My coach and I worked together to choose the order of my solos. My category had a total of three rounds, with a classical and contemporary solo in Round I, a different classical solo in Round II, and two classical solos in Round III (one of these variations could be the same as the variation competed in Round I). The three variations I prepared were La Esmeralda, Grand Pas Classique, and Giselle Act I.

We decided on La Esmeralda for Round I, Grand Pas Classique for Round II, and Giselle Act I and La Esmeralda for Round III. We debated between La Esmeralda and Grand Pas Classique for Round I, but ultimately decided that La Esmeralda was my stronger variation and, since I could perform it in Round III as well, made that my first variation. We knew that we wanted the two variations in Round III to be very different artistically, so decided that Giselle Act I was the most contrasting from La Esmeralda. Grand Pas Classique then ended up being my variation for the second round.

Gabriele Lukasik

Pictured: Gabriele Lukasik performing the Variation from Esmeralda

Do you think the individual onstage rehearsal before each round benefited your performances?

Gabriele: The individual onstage rehearsal time was certainly beneficial. I was able to run my variations onstage, which helped me to get a feel for the stage, space out my variation, and feel more comfortable. I became more accustomed to the stage through this rehearsal time, and felt more confident performing my variations during the competition.

What do you think separates WBC from other ballet competitions?

Gabriele: I have competed in a variety of different ballet competitions over the years, and there are a few characteristics of WBC that make it unique. First of all, the competition is very well-organized, and the staff was always very helpful in answering any questions. Additionally, the competition itself and the scoring system were very transparent; since the scores were announced right after a dancer finished performing, it was clear that everyone was being judged openly and fairly. Finally, through scholarships, the opportunity to perform in the gala, and the chance to take class with well-known ballet teachers, it was obvious that the goal of WBC was to provide young dancers with the opportunity to be seen by different schools, and to help ensure their futures in dance.

Gabriele Lukasik

Pictured: Gabriele (left) posing with her sister, Maya, a fellow competitor

Were you able to sight-see in Orlando? If so, tell us what places you visited.

Gabriele: I was able to sight-see a little bit in Orlando; over my three years of competing there, I visited Disney World, Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, Sea World, and more.

What advice would you give to upcoming competitors?

Gabriele: The advice I would give to upcoming competitors is to do your best and have fun. Oftentimes, dancers worry about performing, especially during competitions, and think too much about placing well or giving a perfect performance. In my opinion, it is much more important to enjoy yourself and find personal growth. Don’t get too caught up in the competition aspect; instead, use WBC as an opportunity to grow as a dancer, to perform onstage, and to have fun sharing your passion for dance with the world!

What have you been up to since competing at the WBC?

Gabriele: Right after competing at WBC, I attended San Francisco Ballet’s summer intensive on full scholarship. I then flew to Sacremento, California to perform at the YAGP Masters and Youth Gala alongside Maria Mosina, Olga Pavlova, Vladislav Lantratov, Maria Alexandrova, Marianna Ryzhkina, and some of the most talented young dancers in the world. Since then, I was accepted to dance with Houston Ballet’s Professional Division and Colorado Ballet’s Pre-Professional Division. I decided to attend Colorado Ballet, and am enjoying dancing every day. In addition to the daily training I receive at Colorado Ballet, I have had many performance opportunities, including performing in the snow scene in their professional company’s production of The Nutcracker, as well as performing Clara’s Snow Pas de Deux and the principal variation from Raymonda in an academy showcase.

Gabrielle Lukasik

Pictured: Gabriele Lukasik

Interested to compete in the World Ballet Competition?

Details on the 2018 Application can be found by clicking here

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