Erez Ben-Zion Milatin started ballet at the age of fourteen at the suggestion of his aerial acrobatics teacher to improve his form and lines in the air. He moved to study in the Thelma Yellin High School of arts and Two years later he moved to New York to train more seriously in the Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program. Erez graduated from the program and danced as a trainee with Boston Ballet and is currently dancing with the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet.
We are happy to have him featured as our Artist of the Week and answer our 7 Questions:
What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
My older sister was the one to push me into taking my first ballet class at fourteen. Around that time I was exposed to the work of Baryshnikov, Makarova, Vladimir Vasiliev and Gelsey Kirkland.
As a music lover from the minute I was born, I saw for the first time its manifestation in movement. Movement, I realized then, is a communicative medium which is as strong as sound or touch, and can penetrate the viewer just as deeply.
This understanding has been pushing me ever since to resonate better, clearer and to be the best communicator I can be with my art.
What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
I decided at 16 that if I want to pursue Ballet as a career, I had to catch up on my ballet education; I moved to New York from my Moshav to study with my teacher and mentor, Edward Ellison. He gave me a wealth of knowledge unlike anything I was exposed to before, he taught me how and why everything works.
Leaving his school and starting to dance in a professional environment was the most educational experience, as you have to master your discipline even further and personalize it. You also have to start making the correct artistic choices without relying on an expert’s eye- and hardest of all, you must start to trust your instincts, even if it means it will cause others to react with negativity. It is all part of the art and the dialogue it creates.
What do you need as an artist today?
I think for me the most important thing right now is to find a good, positive and creative environment in which dance is in the spotlight- not the individual artists/artistic staff who put the pieces together.
In such an environment, the work and discipline take their rightful place and positive energy will start to push you into new discoveries.
What creative project are you working on now?
Unfortunately, currently I’m injured as I overworked during my last show. It also means that I have the time to reflect and rework in a sense a lot of what I do in my dancing- with the full intention of coming back better.
My instrument is my body, it must be taken care of, as I have only one. Yet me as a dancer, as a performer- has nothing to do with my body, and in times like these, this is what must be developed and nourished.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
It will be a dream come true to be in a place where I could dance many different works, by different choreographers, from different time periods for a a great audience with an open mind and heart.
The career is short, and I would like to finish it knowing I left no stone unturned. I would love to find a place that will let me explore the possibilities of my potential to its maximum, whether it is pure movement, pyrotechnical steps or the dramatic element that exists in many story ballets; I want to explore how to bring them all together.
What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
To be an Israeli artist means that we have the responsibility to nourish the culture in our home, and export it as well to the public abroad. I left home at 16, and not once have I met with the kind of talent that exists in our country; the Israeli potential is limitless.
There should be no reason for me to travel half the way across the globe in order to find a place to educate me in the art of classical ballet; it should be available and prominent in Israel’s cultural identity.
Our country faces many difficulties on a day to day basis, and this is why it is so important for all Israeli artists to contribute and educate the younger generation- even if it means going out of our way.
I do believe that it is possible to create the kind of discipline and trust ballet demands in our country; I also know that it will be what I will dedicate my passion to once my body can dance no more.
What does it mean to you to have an organization like the America-Israel Cultural Foundation supporting Israeli culture in the past 77 years?
It means that I know that there are people with the same mindset around me, working just as hard on their own art as I do in mine. It means that someone is there to help those who are financially struggling but artistically possess immense wealth.
Above all, to me, AICF has been such an inspiring platform to work with, assuring me that our work as artists carries real weight, and as a network of positive creative output, we can really make a difference.