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Graduate Interview: Sebastian Goffin

Sebastian Goffin was one of the schools "OG" students, and has gone on to witness the schools' growth into the established vocational school it is today. As an artist who has worked across several facets of the industry in Europe and also here in the UK, read on to hear about his experiences and top tips for being successful.

Sabastian Goffin - LVBS Alumnus

Tell us about your time at school, Sebastian!

My time at the school was very special. I was amongst the first group of students with the Young Dancers Academy (as it was called then) there were four or five of us all studying in Anna’s living room. It was kind of crazy but we loved it. We would study for our GCSE’s in the morning and then head to Danceworks for Anna’s famous One O’clock ballet class, then in the evening take another class with the West London School of Dance. It was a brilliant two years of training and I have Anna to thank for my career. This was all before the village hall was refurbished and the current premises were properly established. I am an OG!

At the risk of making current students jealous, we took a trip to Anna’s house in France during one of the half terms to study French and a bit of cooking. It was so wonderful to travel altogether. Another memory would be playing the title role of Peter Pan in Anna’s production. It was my first leading role and a great acting challenge. Anna has an infectious love of dance that she gifts to all her students and those performance opportunities gave me so much joy and confidence.

Have you kept in touch with the students you trained with at LVBS?

Most of us are still in the industry and we’ve often worked together on the same jobs or kept in touch in some way. People always come back into your lives and the industry is so small. It’s always fun working with people you went to school with, you look back with huge pride and gratitude to your training and then we laugh at how we were as students to how we’ve all changed as adults.

Tell us a bit about your training. What was been your training highlight?

So I started vocational training at the age of 10 at Elmhurst School for Dance, which was then still in its original home in Camberley. The school moved to Birmingham after my first year and went through some significant changes and I didn’t like being so far away from home. Enter Anna du Boisson and the beginning of my training at YDA, (I still take class with Anna today...I was 11 when we first met and am now 32 years old!). Anna trained me and coached me for my upper school auditions and I successfully gained a place at The Royal Ballet Upper School. I was there for four years, repeating my second year of training because I was told I was not good enough to move into the graduate year!

Who is your favourite dance artist to watch perform? Why?

I don’t have a favourite dance artist at the moment but there are many people work who I admire. Whilst at RBS I used to watch The Royal Ballet company almost every week and at the time Tamara Rojo and Alina Cojocaru were still dancing, incredible dramatic artists. Johan Kobborg and Ivan Putrov were huge male inspirations to me and of course Carlos Acosta. Now I go to watch choreographers who I admire: Crystal Pite, Sol León & Paul Lightfoot and Christopher Wheeldon - all leading choreographers in the world of ballet/dance.

What advice would you give for our current students?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Whilst this statement is old fashioned and dance training has changed a lot since my time, mostly for the better. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the training I received. So whilst it’s difficult to recognise at the time know that you will benefit hugely from everything you are being given, soak it all up. Dance is one of the few trades that is still passed down verbally through generations and you can learn something from every teacher you meet, even the ones you don’t connect with. My teacher used to say “aim here (he held his arm up high) and you’ll get here” (he lowered his arm half way). It’s all a process and a journey, trust it.

What’s your career journey so far? Tell us more!

So after I graduated from RBS I moved to Munich in Germany for my apprenticeship with The Bavarian State Ballet Junior Company. A truly wonderful first job with just 16 of us in the Junior company. We toured Germany performing work that you would only do as a soloist, given us further training and performance opportunities. We would dance a lot in the corps de ballet with the main company getting to do some huge ballets. I also got to choreograph two pieces for my piers that were performed on the main stage of the Opera House.

After two seasons I moved to The Norwegian National Ballet in Oslo, a really great company with an expansive repertoire that included a lot of contemporary work as well as the big classics. I was now part of the corps and had opportunities to work with Nacho Duato, León & Lightfoot, Jiri Kylian and Christian Spuck. I started to have solo opportunities in the contemporary works, which I loved.

At the beginning of 2017, my friend sent me this casting breakdown for An American in Paris, the Broadway musical choreographed and directed by Christopher Wheeldon. The show was auditioning for ballet dancers who could sing. Anna had made sure we also did singing, tap and jazz so whilst I wasn’t a triple threat (yet) I could sing. I’d always dreamed of being in a musical in the West End so I took the leap. The gamble payed off and I was part of the Original London Company and I haven’t looked back. I have been working in musicals ever since and am now working on my first play Life of Pi as a puppeteer. I have been lucky and had some great shows that I’ve got to work on but I’ve also worked very hard to transition from ballet to theatre. The freelance world is not for the fainthearted but if you are determined, know what you want to achieve and are ready to work for it anything is possible.



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