Happy Tuesday All! If you've been following me on social media (do you? if not, you should!), you'll know that I'm up to my elbows in dance camps, which is what's prompted me to repost an oldie, but a goodie from The Ballerina Birthday's blog. I love doing crafts in my dance camps, it's a pretty awesome (and integral) part of my brand, and that got me thinking to this interview I did with Margot, creator of Pointebrush. She creates stunning work, and every time I look at it I just sigh and fall in love all over again. Links to her website are in the images, so click away and get familiar with her gorg work!
Like many students, you started ballet at a young age, and continued your training with the RAD. What is it about the RAD method that spoke to you, and how would you describe your early impressions and experience of dance?
I started my ballet education at a small neighborhood dance studio so my RAD training started a little later, around 7 or so when I entered a more formal ballet school in Hong Kong. Entering an RAD based school came as a bit of a shock for me at the beginning because I was coming from a much smaller, recreational school that didn't have any formal training system. I remember having to audition to get in and at the beginning it all seemed quite austere and military (the headmaster even had a large wooden cane that she would rap against the floor!). To be quite honest, I don't know if the RAD system was best suited for me (or maybe it was the way my school was set up) because the focus seemed to be very heavily geared towards exclusively preparing for exams every year and let's face it, exams have never been my favorite thing in the world, dance or otherwise! I was always very much attracted to the romanticism and artistry of ballet but wasn't really able to reconcile what I saw on stage and on videotapes with what I was doing in class. That's probably one of the main reasons why I quit ballet as a teenager. What I did love however, was when some of my favorite teachers used various types of imagery to get us to understand the lines and positions in ballet. I remember one teacher showing us some basic épaulement and telling us to hold our shoulders and necks as if we were covered in diamond necklaces. Or another time, I remember the teacher showing us how to carry our arms as if we were carrying beautiful baskets filled with roses. Maybe it's because I'm a visual person at heart but those exercises always really worked for me!
Do you have a favorite early memory of dance? (rehearsing for a performance, seeing a particular dancer?)
One of my earliest memories of falling in love and being totally enchanted with ballet was receiving a videotape of Marcia Haydee's production of Sleeping Beauty with the Stuttgart Ballet. I remember being completely enamored with Tchaikovsky's music, especially the iconic rose adagio, which to me was just the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard! It's still one of my favorite ballets ever even though as I've grown older, I've become increasingly more passionate about Neoclassical ballet.
Who are your dance heroes and why?
n the professional/historical world of dance, I would say that my biggest all time heroes are Margot Fonteyn and George Balanchine. They're kind of opposites in a way, especially stylistically, but what they have in common is that they practiced their art in a way that I find to be incredibly soulful, honest and moving. Margot Fonteyn is a ballerina that no matter how many times I watch her in any particular role, I can always find something new and interesting about her interpretation. Her Juliet brings me to tears every single time and to me she's just the pinnacle of grace and what it means to be a prima ballerina. George Balanchine similarly, is someone who's choreography I can watch over and over again and still uncover more layers of understanding every time I watch it. Serenade, Symphony in C and Symphony in Three Movements are among my absolute favorites and I admire any artist who takes risks which he certainly did by reinventing and challenging the boundaries of classical ballet.
On a personal level, as an adult ballet student, I have to say that some of my biggest sources of inspiration are adult recreational dancers and adult beginners! Most of the adult ballet students I've come across, whether in person or on social media, exude so much joy and passion when they're dancing it's truly infectious! I find them so incredibly inspiring and there's something about seeing someone dance because they just love it, regardless of their age, gender, size, physical facility, etc... that is exciting to watch! I sincerely do believe that ballet is an artform that can and should be shared with many people of all ages and walks of life!
How did the idea for Pointebrush come about?
Pointebrush started out as just a small side project and hobby for me to get back to my pencils and paints. As a full time graphic designer, I spend a lot of time designing on the computer so I was looking for a creative outlet to get back to pencil and paper and make art just for me. Ballet is such a big thing in my life so I was naturally drawn to painting dancers. I came up with the name “Pointebrush” to express the combination of ballet and visual arts.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work/art, and the most rewarding?
s my portfolio of Pointebrush work grows and I tackle different subjects in the world of ballet, it can sometimes be challenging finding a fresh perspective and creativity. It can be very easy to fall into routine or habit, especially when creating art. Sometimes, as an artist, you can get stuck in what feels safe, or comfortable and what everybody expects you to do. But the whole reason I created Pointebrush was to be able to find a safe place for me to experiment and try new things, so getting too comfortable or too much into a routine would be a disservice to why I started this project in the first place! Recently, I've been trying to challenge myself a little more stylistically and experimenting a little more with art techniques, creative styles and subject matter. I've found that painting more diversity in ballet really inspires me so I've been looking for imagery of ballet from across the world, as well as bodies and ethnicities that aren't seen as frequently. For a very long time, ballet had been primarily dominated by caucasian, affluent, thin dancers but by no means are those individuals the only ones that can dance!
One of the most rewarding things about this whole journey has been connecting with people from all over the world on social media. I've been very fortunate to receive a very warm response from both dancers and non-dancers alike on Instagram and I truly love connecting with all the people who follow me. I've made a ton of friends! It's also a joy to see my work inspire others to dance or to draw so that has been an unexpected, but incredibly rewarding aspect of my work.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
I love visiting museums, galleries and attending performances. There's something about experiencing other artist's creations in person that is really inspiring and gets me thinking about other perspectives and techniques and how I can apply what I learn there to my work. There are so many talented artists out there who have really unique points of view and tackle their work differently to me so it's always refreshing to take a step back from what I'm doing to see how others take different approaches to their craft. Living in New York City, I'm very fortunate to have access to some of the world's finest museums and galleries and there's never a shortage of new and exciting performances! Recently, I really enjoyed watching the Lion King on broadway and I'm always excited to see what's new and exciting at New York City Ballet. The energy and talent at that company is particularly exciting to me, especially given the fact that I hadn't had much exposure to neoclassical ballet growing up.