David Alan Cook
David Alan Cook began dancing in Montgomery, Alabama under the direction of Duane Dishion. Mr. Cook went on to study in Birmingham at The Alabama School of Fine Arts with Thor Sutowski and Dame Sonia Arova. He continued his training in New York with The American Ballet Theatre School, The American Center for The Joffrey Ballet, and The School of American Ballet for The New York City Ballet.
Mr. Cook has danced professionally with The Cleveland-San Jose Ballet, The Nashville Ballet, The Pennsylvania Ballet, and The Atlanta Ballet companies. His repertoire includes leading roles in Balanchine’s “Meloncholic” from “The Four Temperaments”, and the Grand Pas de Deux from “Stars and Stripes.” Mr. Cook’s professional experience was highlighted performing Balanchine’s “Allegro Brillante” with New York City Ballet’s Sean Lavery and Heather Watts, dancing the principal roles, as well as performing with Rudolph Nureyev in The Cleveland-San Jose Ballet’s production of Flemming Flindt’s “The Overcoat” and Dennis Nahat’s Copelia; touring Ireland, The Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and throughout the United States.
Mr. Cook continued his career in The Netherlands, as a classical ballet teacher for the Department of The Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Amsterdam and as guest company teacher for Introdans, a Dutch repertoire ballet company in Arnhem. He later became company classical teacher and eventually ballet master for Djazzex, a modern jazz dance company in Den Haag. He was honored for staging performances for The World Expo in Seville, Spain, The Palermo Festival in Italy, and also while on tour throughout The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID ALAN COOK
Why and when did you start dancing?
I was in gymnastics when I was 10 years old and decided to take ballet to help me. However, once I began taking ballet classes I never stopped, and I never went back to gymnastics.
What ballet companies were you in?
I started my professional ballet career at Delta Festival Ballet in New Orleans, and then I moved to a larger company called Atlanta Ballet. After that I had opportunities to dance at Pennsylvania Ballet, then Nashville Ballet, where I was the first principal dancer at the company. I finished my career with Cleveland-San Jose Ballet.
What is your most memorable performance?
Cleveland-San Jose Ballet was performing Coppelia with Rudolf Nureyev at the Edinburg Festival in Scotland. At the time I had a hip injury. While the audience was applauding, Mr. Nureyev insisted I do about 20 double tour en l’airs in a row before the final bows.
Can you recall a comical moment?
Performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Cleveland-SanJose Ballet with Dennis Nahat. There was a moment where trained birds were released. They were flying in many haphazard directions. Dennis, our director, tried to rehearse and teach choreography to the birds, as if they were people. They did not cooperate.
What teacher had the greatest impact on your career?
What reality TV show do you regularly watch?
None. However I have seen Breaking Pointe a few times and I think it is probably the most professional depiction of dance.
Your career allowed you to travel and live all over the world. What place did you enjoy the most?
First I have to say Hillsboro, NC. It is where I am from and I love it there. The most exciting place was in New Your City. But I have to say I learned the most while living in Amsterdam for eleven years. As an example, when you are ready to pay for something, you keep your money in your pocket until the moment you give it to the salesperson. This custom was started because it is considered poor manners to flaunt money in front of others.
Who is the most famous person you have taken class with?
I took an open ballet class in NYC and at one side of the bare was Mary Tyler Moore, the famous actress. Gelsey Kirkland, former principal dancer with NYC Ballet and American Ballet Theater, and wrote the book, Dancing on My Grave, was on my other side.
What has been your famous teaching moment?
Coaching Ava (Miss Liz’s daughter) in Esmerelda. She was very young, but was participating in the session as a seasoned professional. This is one of the things I enjoy so much about WDA. The dancers are known for their level of maturity and work.
What would you be if you were not a ballet teacher?
An archeologist or anthropologist.
What was the most difficult thing about this career?
Navigating the politics involved with dance companies.
If you could have dinner with a person dead or alive who would it be?
If we see you out and about what are you doing?
Listening to music on my headphones at a fountain.