Principal’s Corner: Professional Dancer and Author, David Hallberg, Speaks about the Transformative Power of an ASA Education Setting the Stage for Lifelong Success
Arizona School for the Arts was provided a unique opportunity to hear from ASA Alum, David Hallberg, when he visited The School of Ballet Arizona to speak with students in ASA’s Intermediate Dance, Ballet Corps, Ballet Corps Intensive, and Pre-Professional programs at the end of second quarter. David shared the influence ASA had on him both during his childhood and extending into adulthood. He enrolled at ASA in 8th grade and graduated in 2000 at which time he joined American Ballet Studio’s Company.
David inspired our students while being relatable and remind them that their education at ASA allows them to be artistically literate and anything they dream to become is possible. ASA helped lay the foundation upon which David danced from Phoenix all the way to Russia and he encouraged our current students to remember to take advantage of all the resources and dedicated staff to assist them in realizing their goals. Here is an excerpt of him responding to their questions about his transition to a professional dancer and his decision to write his recently released book, A Body of Work: Dancing to the Edge and Back.
What was ASA’s impact on you?
There is no shy way of saying it saved me. I was an artist as a 14 year old, and no one wanted me to be an artist in public school. I went to ASA and all of the sudden I was around all of these people that wanted to do what I did and who accepted me for what I wanted to do, which was amazing. I always dreamt of an arts school and going to an arts school in America, but it never seemed like it could have been a reality -- and it became a reality.
I think what was so important- which I didn’t realize at that age but I realize now- is how my academics were just as important as my dancing… The majority of the students that I went to school with did not become professional dancers. They made the decision to go to a university and go a different path . Had academics not been that important at ASA, they would have run into a big problem getting into a college and realizing another future.
ASA was so formative in my life. Whether you become a professional dancer or not, that’s not really the end goal. What the end goal is -is that you are a well-rounded person. You realize you have been given a very well rounded education. For example I do a lot of public speaking now. I wouldn’t have that skill really or the ease of that skill had I not had to do presentations at ASA and go in front of my class and my teachers and present myself. It’s a skill that I really learned at ASA. I learned how to write, and I wrote a book about it. You won’t see this now, but when you graduate you’ll have life skills. That is almost more important than knowing an equation of some mathematical problem. For me it’s made me a whole person.
Why did you decide to write your book?
The book was birthed because I felt like I had a story to tell. At the beginning when I was writing the book, I felt like I was on top of the world. I was running around the world; I was bouncing around at every theatre in the world trying to do 17 things at once. I crashed and burned. I injured my foot. What could have gone wrong with the recovery went very wrong. It was a struggle to get back on stage and get back to dancing. It became very evident that this journey was the story I had to tell. I became a better person. I started to listen to people more and be grateful for the opportunities I was given rather than expect them. So when I got back to dancing, which I actually didn’t think I would get back to, everything was very different. I was very different. I became a different person, and that is what I had to share with the book. I really struggled to get there. I worked really hard, and I weathered a really, really heavy storm.