We had the good fortune of connecting with Bjarne Hecht and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bjarne, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking hasn’t just been a part of my life, it has defined my life. Whether it was leaving conventional schooling for a theatrical education, leaving a lifetime contract at the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen to go explore on my own, or leaving the known and safe life of ballet behind to go deeper into acting in New York and Los Angeles; I never thought of it consciously as risk taking. I don’t think you can do that at the moment of making a big life altering decision. For me it was always a situation of “no other choice” – the chances you take in life are the ones you’ve been burning to take, the ones you have to take. When I moved to LA 8 years ago, I should probably have continued in the restaurant management business I had left back east, but instead I felt my roots pulling at me and I slowly started teaching ballet -and quickly finding success. I have no doubts that my popularity as a teacher has as much, if not more, to do with my wealth of life experiences -of taking risks if you want- as it has to do with my past as a dancer. Taking risks in life is vital to the richness of life, just don’t think of it as “a risk”, or you risk not taking it!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As far back as I can remember I had an extreme need to express myself; as a kid I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to express, just that I had something to say! In the beginning I wasn’t so good with words and eventually I found my language through movement. I wasn’t a great technical dancer, but I stood out early because of the need to express. I never executed series of steps, I tried to tell a story -even if the ballet didn’t have a specific story to tell. It was always this need that kept pushing me forward, to take different turns and to then actually open my mouth and speak. I accomplished so much as a dancer, taking a bow in front of the curtain at the Met in NY was exhilarating – but I do think I felt my proudest walking onto a Broadway stage and opening my mouth to speak for the first time. Was it ever easy? Ha, No, Never! I don’t think any artist would ever say it was easy. Whatever your expression is, be it the spoken word, song, dance, painting or the harpsichord – expressing yourself is never easy. It is however, always and forever, an exciting life, even in the darkest moments. One of the greatest lessons I found along the way, was to never be afraid to look inside yourself, to look deeper -and then to share of what you find in there, that sharing will always come back to you tenfold! Today, I use all the lessons I found on my path, in my teaching and what I receive back from my students is invaluable; every little moment of discovery, of finding that expression, fills me with wonder every time. I do treat every student coming into the dance studio the same and as an equal, simply because I do believe we all share a journey – and perhaps that sets me apart from other teachers. No dance studio should ever be about judgment or competition, when an adult choses to do ballet as a workout, it is most often because they want to express themselves in an artful manner as much as or more than just a fitness routine, that is definitely a courage and curiosity I can only admire. A classical ballet class for adult beginners do take discipline, but it should also be fun!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Whenever you have a friend visiting LA, it really isn’t necessary to lay out a whole itinerary. This is one of the most diverse cities you will ever come across, not just in terms of ethnicities, but architecturally and landscape wise I can’t think of an equal to LA. There is something to see everywhere. I like to go down to Pacific Palisades and walk all the way out to the pier in Venice; you start out quiet and serene, move through family life in Santa Monica and arrive in the madness of the Venice Boardwalk, walk inland a block or two and find local art in small little galleries, you can be so lucky to find the latest paintings from say David Hockney. My favorite art museum, the Marciano Art Foundation in Koreatown, unfortunately abruptly closed it’s doors not too long ago and LACMA is being rebuilt so we are a little low on art at the moment but Downtown still has the Broad and MOCA, however you are often rewarded with great discoveries in the smaller galleries scattered about Downtown’s Art District, which is also where you’ll find the city’s best fashion store, Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market, itself an expression of art. LA also has some of the best street art in the world, in almost any neighborhood you can find incredible murals and pop ups. To get a sense of the youth of the city, watch Hollywood High let out in the afternoon -and pack our In’N’Out Burger, I never regret that burger! Or pay a visit to the American Film Institute up on Western, strike up a conversation with any of tomorrow’s great directors, who knows, you might be just right for their thesis, hey it happened to me. From AFI, it’s a great walk towards Hollywood, starting off on Sunset, walking by so much history and studios (if I have time I make sure to walk over to Melrose and pay respect to Paramount, most visitors don’t realize that these major studios are right in the middle of the city) -of course I end up on Hollywood Blvd’s Walk of Fame, no visitor would want anything less – and as always, look up from those stars on the pavement, there are some amazing buildings in old Hollywood! If in luck, I’ll take my visitor to a screening of a new -or old- film, at the Egyptian or the Hollywood Legion or -hopefully again- the Cinerama Dome, followed by a Q&A by a real flesh&blood movie star, making me the best host ever. This is LaLa Land after all. A hike in Runyon Canyon will also be on the program… I could go on forever, there is always something to explore in LA!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Every human being I have ever met, from the worst offender of humanity to the most benevolent humanist and every one in between, have all helped shape the person I am today. Realizing that every one you ever come across are all worthy of a Thank You is perhaps the greatest lesson, so thanks ya’ll…
Amber Denison Mydtskov Leslie E. Spatt