James Stout, principal dancer at the Dutch National Ballet performing ballet
Art and culture

A Canadian-British dancer takes ballet beyond the form

January 13, 2020

What does it take to be a ballet dancer? Watch James Stout, principal dancer at the Dutch National Ballet, as he goes through rigorous daily training in his wholehearted devotion to his craft.

As a young teen, the Canadian-British dancer James Stout was mesmerized by the Argentinian tango dance classes his parents used to run. “I think that was really when I first learned how to enjoy dancing and music,” he says.

His curiosity was piqued. From there, he immersed himself in other forms of dance including ballroom and ballet, which led him to start at the Alberta Ballet School at 13. Later on, he even went through a period of intense, Chinese-oriented training at the Goh Ballet Academy in Vancouver, before ending up in London to study at the Royal Ballet School.

“It’s about keeping your head down and not getting distracted, staying true to yourself and focusing on your goals. That, eventually, got me to where I am today.”

“It’s about keeping your head down and not getting distracted, staying true to yourself and focusing on your goals. That, eventually, got me to where I am today.”
James Stout, principal dancer, Dutch National Ballet

For Stout, now a principal dancer at the Dutch National Ballet, the “real” craftsmanship of a ballet dancer comes after learning the steps. “There will be a moment after you repeat [the choreography] so many times that you forget about the steps,” he says. “That’s the moment when you really start developing the character and you’ve reached the next level.”

Preparing for his upcoming shows in Amsterdam, including “The Nutcracker” and “Frida,” Stout talks about his creative process, relentless daily training and wholehearted devotion to his craft.

This three-part series explores the craftsmanship behind the works of exciting creative minds in stage design, opera and dance. In the same way that Dorchester Collection devotes itself to crafting perfect moments for guests, these creatives go the distance to transcend the ordinary and aim for the sublime.

 

This content was produced by T Brand Studio and previously appeared on The New York Times.
© Photography by Jack Margerison

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