BalletMet's Jim Nowakowsi Thinks All Teachers Should Reinforce This to Their Dancers

Jim Nowakowski with Houston Ballet (Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy Nowakowski)

After a wildly successful stint in the commercial dance industry, Jim Nowakowski is now back in the world of classical ballet, and looking better than ever. (How is that even possible?) He's dazzling audiences while performing with BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio. He sat down with DT to tell us about his most influential teacher, Jamey Leverett of Rochester City ballet, and how her guidance through difficult times has given him the confidence to become the dancer he is today—versatility included.

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"When I was 18, and getting ready to audition for companies for the first time, I started being really hard on myself. I was freaking terrified for auditions and it was weighing me down. At that time, Jamey really helped me through my insecurity by having confidence in me. I genuinely believe the most powerful thing she ever did for me was to believe that I really could be successful. She communicated her faith in my potential to me and it made all the difference. She told me that if I worked hard and stayed humble, someone would want to hire me and incorporate my talent into their company. Now that I have decided to come back to ballet after trying out commercial dancing, I asked her if she thought I could do it, and she said, 'Are you kidding me? Of Course!' This reassurance is what dancers need from their teachers. They need someone to believe in them."

You can see Nowakowski November 9-19 in BalletMet's "Front Row: A Collection of Short Ballets"

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