Israel’s leading ballerino has relocated to the City of Angeles, where he is working on a new fitness system called Ballet-lates. So what went through the soloists head when he decided to leave behind a star career as the lead dancer of the Spanish National Ballet to start fresh in LA? Are those dance shoes on or off, and is the American west coast living up to his expectations?
When did you first start dancing and was ballet a clear choice or were you attracted to less strict dance forms as well?
I started dancing when I was 14 years old. I watched my older brother dance hip-hop, and I fell in love with the flowing of each movement. I asked my mother if I could also take some hip-hop classes. After the first class, the dance teacher called my mother to suggest she would sign me up for classical training. I remember how very excited I was about my first ballet class as I watched the dancers through the window and saw the grand piano – the whole setting was so magical. They were so full of life as they moved through the Conservatory of Israel. I trained there to become a professional ballet dancer until I was 15 years old. Even though it was very tough and demanding, I loved the dance world, I felt at home there. It was my of way speaking without words.
How do you think ballet has evolved? Do you think dancers have to be more versatile today?
Within the dance world, classical ballet has evolved tremendously. Today dancers have more of a say and more freedom to create. There are fewer boundaries and more openness. A strong dancer is a dancer who masters the classic technique to control and know his body and use the freedom to dance in any style he desires. There are no real rules in art.
You were quite a big name in Israel and later in Spain, what made you leave the success behind for a new beginning in LA?
I won the reality TV show So You Think You Can Dance when I was 16 years old. Following the show, I went to study at the Juilliard School of Art in New York City and had a great career in Spain and Holland for 6 years. I had a feeling that there was more for me within the arts world and things I had to discover and explore. I had to give myself the chance to discover more about myself and push myself even further. Right now I’m not with a dance company, instead I am developing a new language that I called Ballet-lates, a combination of exercises from Pilates and Classical Ballet. I see great results in my clients and I’m very happy to be able to use my knowledge of dance for a greater cause. LA feels like the right place for Ballet-lates. I feel very lucky to be here, doing this.
So how is LA treating you, is this home now?
I love LA! Here I surround myself with stimulating, creative people that allow me to explore new opportunities with my wide knowledge of dance and fitness. After living six years in Europe, I can say that for the first time a place feels like home. I feel comfortable, I feel welcome and I love how I managed to developed myself as an artiste here.
Dancer Yanis Marshall find massive fame via his YouTube videos, would you considering doing the same?
Yanis did a great job and I love how brave he is. Social media plays a massive role for our generation. Of course I want to take advantage of this medium, and in a way I already am.
How important is movement to you and what do you say to those who don’t use their body to its fullest capacity?
Body movement is all there is to me. It’s part of my work to make people feel comfortable with their bodies and reach their full capacity and potential for a healthier life. The human body is the greatest machine in the world, so it’s very important to take care of it. I think there is already a great shift in the fitness world. People in general are more aware of their health, and that makes me happy.
What’s the latest health craze you’re addicted to?
I love, love, love yoga. It balances my mind but is also a very intensive work out for the body. I recommend yoga to everyone.
What do you need daily to call yourself a happy man?
I need to be surrounded with a lot of love. That’s my honest answer. Having dedicated my whole life entirely to dancing, I think it’s time to create a healthy loving relationship.
Do you see yourself putting away your ballet shoes at some point, if yes then what would be the next chapter for Or Kahlon?
I can never stop dancing, it’s who I am. But my next chapter is developing further the language of Ballet-lates through the knowledge that I’ve gained and training people to use their body to communicate without words. It’s a lot of hard work, but I believe I can do it.
Interview and photography by Andrea Vecchiato