Gregg Bielemeier on Ballet, Aging, and Bank Accounts.
Gregg Bielemeier, now celebrating his 50th season as a dancer, performed in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 2016 production of Beautiful Decay. He recently reprised the role with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and now returns to perform it again with OBT. One could say he is something of a Beautiful Decay expert. We caught up with Gregg recently to get his perspective on the ballet, aging, and bank accounts.
OBT: This will be your third production of Beautiful Decay and working with OBT’s Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte, how does your role evolve? Do you work organically with Nicolo to continue to find more expression and nuance?
GB: My role, my character, as I do consider this to be equally an acting role as much as a dancing role, has evolved quite naturally and each time I perform it takes on its own life and new discovery. Nicolo’s direction and trust, always helps me continue to add varied nuance.
OBT: What are you looking forward in returning to this production with OBT?
GB: I’m thrilled to be dancing with Kasandra!!! (Former contemporary dancer Kasandra Gruener is also OBT’s beloved Education Outreach Director) We started to dance together in San Francisco in 1980 . . . And I also look forward to working with these incredible beautiful talented young dancers. I love the opportunities to work with young people. Keeps me alive and vital.
OBT: What is beautiful to you about aging as a dancer? What qualities do you feel are stronger or unique that may not register on younger dancers?
GB: What is beautiful to me about aging as a dancer is Experience and Maturity. For me, it’s more challenging than it is beautiful. Personally, I’m not really “enjoying” aging I’m accepting it and working with it. A nice healthy bank account would certainly help me “enjoy” aging.
I have absolutely no advice for young dancers as to why they should keep dancing in the face of physical change. It’s such a personal choice.
OBT: In a 2014 interview in Stance on Dance you were quoted as saying “I was a sculpture major, so there seemed a logical transition from sculpting materials to sculpting myself.” Looking back, how has dance “sculpted” you as a person?
GB: I was a sculpture major and it was a clear and clean transition into dance. Physically, as I educated and trained in several dance forms, I realized it was me. The more training equals gaining more abilities. Psychologically, for me, it revealed a world of its own and that’s what excited me about dance. It helped me form confidence and build personal and professional relationships. For me dancing is about “not being the same as”. Me dancing through time and space, sculpting/choreography, became a natural way of living.