We had the good fortune of connecting with Carmen Callahan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carmen, why did you pursue a creative career?
When you choose to have a career in the arts, you dedicate your life to something that few will understand and even fewer will value. I can’t speak to times before I was alive, but it seems to me that the average 21st century person’s interest in the arts is at a critical low. The modern person no longer seeks to weave art into the fabric of their everyday life. And in a world that is ever-increasingly digital, some art forms fade into the abyss more than ever before. It’s a bit ironic, really, that in a time when humanity needs it most, art is considered “inessential”, and “a luxury” by many. As someone who exists in today’s society while simultaneously critiquing it, I felt a responsibility to ballet as an art form, and all of the arts, to dedicate my life to bring the arts back to their greatest cultural relevance, in whatever small way I am able to contribute to said goal.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Becoming a dancer requires many years of hard work, focus, and dedication. You’re constantly learning throughout your career, even as a professional. One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my career has actually been quite recently – dancing through this pandemic. Without access to classes daily, you have get creative about your work, and find ways to keep learning even though the circumstances are less than ideal. It has been and continues to be incredibly challenging, but I have confidence that we will all be able to return to the studio someday soon, and I want to be able to dance my best when that day arrives. In times like these it is certainly difficult to maintain your focus and motivation, but it’s necessary. Good things come to those who work hard!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My absolute favorite thing about Los Angeles is the beach! I could sit in the sand in Venice or Santa Monica for hours. Pre-covid, one of my favorite activities was to go on a run along the trail in Santa Monica, then stop for some mango with tajin from a fruit stand afterwards. The perfect day! Or if I’m downtown I can never resist a cloud latte from Tilt Coffee on 4th and Los Angeles. It’s my favorite coffee shop in all of 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?
Classical ballet is such an interesting field – especially because, for the most part, the technique is taught through generations of people over time, each generation of dancers teaching the next. In some ways, it can be like a really long game of telephone – the message sometimes becomes different after being passed down from person to person for so many years. With that said, while I have had so many amazing instructors over the years, I want to dedicate this shoutout to a book entitled “Suki Schorer on Balanchine Technique.” There are few books written that attempt to fully encapsulate the technique behind our craft, and even fewer are successful. This book is specific in diving in to the many many different facets of the Balanchine technique, and I refer to it nearly every day, even now.
Main – Felipe Telona Jr. 1 – Laura Claypool Photo 2 – Gus Mejia 3 – Dara Block 4 – Scott Edwards Photography 5 – Dara Block 6 – Neil Gandhi 7 – Nelson Mendez