Interview with John Selya
25 January 2016 by Bernadette Nyirabariyanga
Ballet Idaho: What inspired you to become a dancer?
John: Dancing is the perfect balance of sports and music and at 10 years old I began dancing with the School of American Ballet.
BI: What do you appreciate most about Nine Sinatra Songs?
John: I appreciate the complexity and simplicity of the romantic relationships. Each pas de deux is an example of certain feelings and emotions we all experience.
BI: You have worked with Twyla Tharp for over 20 years, what has been one of your favorite moments with her?
John: I think most of the moments with her are my favorite. She allows me to express myself every time I dance with her.
BI: You spent some time here in Boise last year when you came to first meet the company, what were you most looking forward to upon your return?
John: I love Boise, the community and the environment of the city. I look forward to working with the dancers and the professionalism and attitude they bring with them.
BI: When you’re away from the studio, how do you like to spend your time?
John: Surfing, as often as I can.
As a native New Yorker, John Selya trained at the prestigious School of American Ballet from 1980 – 1988. In his final year, he received the Mae L. Wien award for Outstanding Promise before joining the American Ballet Theatre. There John performed works by Balanchine, Robbins, Tharp, Mark Morris, Tetly, Kudelka, Kylian, as well as the classical repertoire. In addition to making a name for himself, John choreographed three works for the company: Moondance, Disposition and Don’t Panic. Later, John joined Twyla Tharp Dance to create and perform the central role of Eddie in Tharp’s Tony winning Broadway show, Movin’ Out. His extraordinary performance earned him a Tony nomination for best actor in a musical, an Astaire award for outstanding dancing on a Broadway stage and a Theater World Award for outstanding Broadway debut.
Since then Mr. Selya has appeared as the Mambo dancer in Damn Yankees, Scranton Slim in Guys and Dolls and Sid in Twyla Tharp’s recent Come Fly Away. In 2008, John was an “Artist-in- Residence” at New York’s Joyce SoHo, where he created two works: Tweaker and La Voix Humaine. In addition to appearing on stage, John also has appeared on screen in the movies Everyone Says I Love You, Across the Universe and Romance and Cigarettes.
John recently staged and directed the Royal Danish Ballet’s production of Tharp’s Come Fly Awaywhere the production had a historic run and earned numerous awards for the artists involved. Mr.Selya has recently been assisting Ms. Tharp in collaborating and creating a curriculum for Twyla Tharp’s school for dance in New York City.