One of the most successful professional ballet dancers/choreographers Josie Walsh has had her work featured across America, with her online videos reaching as far as Europe, but its her cutting-edge new ballet style and “movement” that is really turning heads and making headlines!
With Electronic Dance Music (EDM) being one of the top music genres these days, Josie has combined her notorious skills to re-invent the way people think of ballet with her new production entitled, Ballet RED, that features her very own “Glamourinas” that have danced on shows such as Glee, and alongside artists as Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea and Florence and the Machine.
The mind-blowing Ballet RED show doesn’t officially hit the public stage until November 22nd in Santa Monica, California at the prestigious Broad Stage, but that hasn’t stopped celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and others to share their intrigue about the new dance movement via social media by reposting one of Josie’s ballet videos that teases what audiences can expect:
The Levity Ball sat down in Los Angeles with Josie to find out more about her life and everything Ballet RED…
I was always dancing as a kid but when I was 5 living in Manhattan my sister said “look mom Josie is dancing fancy” so my mother put me in a tap class the next day and I was absolutely miserable! Then she put me in a jazz class where I completely came alive. The jazz teacher took me by the shoulders after class and rather cryptically as I recall said “do you want to be a professional dancer one day?” I nodded yes with a whole lot of vigor, he said “good, then ballet class 5 days a week for you”. I would of taken 7 days a week if I could and when I was older I most certainly did as ballet completely consumed every ounce of my being becoming an intrinsic part of me. From the age of 5 I knew I was to become a ballerina, there was no alternative in my mind and I never had a back up plan because I had no room to even entertain the possibility of not dancing so I was committed and nothing was gonna stop me! I had some major injuries along the way that definitely challenged that dream but overcoming those hurdles only strengthened my resolve.
Which shows are you’re most memorable that you have either danced in or helped put together?
That’s a tough one as I’ve created so many ballets that I love and each for their own uniqueness but having to choose I would say “Texture of Time” and “Secret Garden” as they are deeply layered story wise and emotionally. I wrote them out like plays finding character arcs and thru lines and using different mediums such as an intricate multimedia set design, props and elaborate costuming to transport the vision and create a world onto itself. I can be very theatrical and I often approach my work like a director who then talks to the choreographer in me and that dance back and forth creates a powerful synergy that I feel reflects in my work.
What are your thoughts on the dance industry as a whole these days?
The commercial dance and the concert dance industry are so very different although that’s the gap I’d like to bridge with Ballet RED in fact. Commercial dance for instance with pop stars on tour and in videos attracts a large non-dance audience who get dance by default as that wasn’t their main attraction in the first place but most certainly an element they often fall in love with as the complete package. Where as concert dance attracts very specifically dance and arts patrons. Shows like SYTYCD & DWTS have been a blessing for the concert dance world as they have cultivated so many more dance fans by presenting quality work and delivering it in such a way that is accessible and inviting to the masses without losing artistic integrity. That in itself is an art and I feel the dance industry as a whole is booming! The success of the movie “Black Swan” and the much anticipated gritty ballet episodic “Flesh and Bones” by the producers of “Breaking Bad” has and will bring ballet into the forefront where it deserves to be! So ballet is hitting the mainstream and will only grow from there I believe.
You are about to introduce Ballet RED to the world… Tell us what makes this show/style so exciting?
Ballet RED is bold, sensual and edgy! From the moment you enter the theatre you’re transported into the sensory world of RED as our very own composer/DJ Jealous Angel is mixing his pulsating soundscape live then seamlessly morphs to stage exploding in an intoxicating fusion with Ballet RED’s “Glamourinas’ creating the ultimate visceral feast for the senses!
How did you come up with the Ballet RED concept and EDM-style music to go along with the choreography?
It happened organically as I fell in love with a 10ft tall stilt walking composer/DJ! Jealous Angel is my husband and the synergy we have is completely intertwined in our art. His music inspires me and we push each other creatively on a daily basis. When I was dancing professionally before I met Jealous Angel I always felt frustrated that ballet wasn’t attracting a younger demographic and that the general public only thought of Ballet in terms of the traditional Swan Lake or Nutcracker, not even aware of how cutting edge and sensual this incredible art form can be. I was always that ballerina in the club after hours which I called “strobe light therapy” cutting up the dance floor with the tons of other people who love music and dance. That world inspired me and I wanted to bring those elements into the ballet world fusing it in a sophisticated elegant way to create a hybrid ballet that appealed to dance and non dance audience alike. Jealous Angel’s music is such a unique combination of organic guitar, piano and cello mixed with his layered electronica landscape and working together we are able to create truly dynamic works.
Stars such as Lindsay Lohan have already Tweeted about their interest in Ballet RED, how does it feel seeing her and others express their interest in your “art”?
It feels incredible! As I want to reach the world at large and show them how cool and cutting edge Ballet is and how this art form is continually evolving while still honoring it’s traditional past. Ballet RED is current and culturally relevant and stars tweeting are videos out is a testament of us reaching a larger demographic! The amount of celebrities who have trained in ballet or have some connection to it is very large and I’d love to connect with ALL of them!
If you weren’t in the dance world, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be an acupuncturist and have a wellness center. Which is not far off from where I’m at now as dance truly is my wellness center and sanctuary.
What is your advice to people who want to be a dancer / ballerina?
Be willing to work endlessly, stay focused and intentional and be prepared to sacrifice a normal life as ballet is a total 24/7 mind, body, soul commitment if your goal is to reach a high level in this art form.
What is the worst advice you have ever been given?
Other people imposing their own personal limitations on you which comes in a variety of forms. Thank goodness I’m rebellious by nature because if I listened to half of what people said I’d not be where I am today. Follow your heart unreasonably and be willing to do the work required to achieve your dream and what ever fear comes up face it and transmute it.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
The violence and inequality in our world.
How can people buy tickets to Ballet RED or stay connected with you?
Tickets are available here: http://www.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=674182 and by going to our website Ballet RED www.balletred.com as well as my Facebook both for Josie Walsh and Ballet RED.