What brought Sergey Kheylik to ballet?

“My mom made me do it,” he says in his surprisingly deep voice. “to keep me off the city streets.” Sergey grew up in the city of Voronezh, Russia, a fan of Michael Jackson and not fond of ballet at first. It was a good five years into his training that he really started to take it seriously. Then, at the age of 13, the peripatetic part of his dancing career, still going strong, took root: he was awarded a Nureyev Foundation scholarship that took him to Vienna, where he studied at the Vienna State Opera School. His training continued at the John Cranko School in Stuttgart. He has loved travel ever since and has danced—with Vienna State Opera, Carolina Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Odyssey Dance Theatre, Cirque du Soleil and Rock the Ballet—on every continent but South America, “my next goal.”

For the last 9 years, Sergey has been based more or less in the US . But although he says, “I like it a lot, I feel at home here, more than my own country,” he also remarks, “I’m looking for a country that fits me,” which seems to translate into an ongoing enjoyment of exploring different places. “Travel gives energy,” he finds, “and travel is educating.” Of the places he’s been so far, he’s especially taken with LA—”the palm trees and beach and mountains, more nature, that you don’t have in New York. And nothing can beat California weather.” He likes Miami too, especially its night life.

With his pointed chin, tousled hair and piquant, impish smile, Sergey has something of a Peter Pan quality. He demeanor and way of moving when not dancing are loose, casual. He gives a very strong impression of not liking much to be serious. But he has very definite ideas about dance. His attitude toward the classical tradition in which he was trained is “been there, done that.” He adds, “We are living in a different time now. In classical ballet, you don’t use the body to the full. What my body can do, you don’t need in ballet.”

“When I’m not dancing, I would say I’m doing lots of work and research online and beside that I just try to enjoy life. Hang out with friends. I like good food, I enjoy cooking, like nightlife, traveling. I drink and smoke a lot. That’s what’s going on, I guess.” It’s fun sometimes to get dressed up and attend a ballet or opera performance, but “I would rather see a concert, and sit back relaxed, a drink in hand than sit quiet” in a theater.

So what kind of dance does he like to do now himself? Of Rasta Thomas‘ Rock the Ballet, with which he’s toured quite a bit (splitting parts in Bad Boys of Ballet in daily shows with Shane Ohmer), he says, “It’s fun and gets the audience. There’s lots of agro. But you wouldn’t call it art, more entertainment.”

Whim W’Him is quite a different kind of dance. It requires new qualities beyond his strong jumps and spins. Sergey is intrigued by the movements, and emotions, required of the dancers for the upcoming show, where he is performing in pieces by Olivier Wevers and Andrew Bartee. “They’re interesting,” he says. “I don’t do that stuff often.” Then he smiles and adds, “It will be good!”


*For tickets, go to: Whim W’Him: Third Degree