At age 22, dancer Alex Wong is already running out of new worlds to conquer. While a deceptively wiry teenager in Canada, he was attracting attention and amassing prizes at major competitions with his speed, flexibility and precision. For the last four years, he has been rising through the ranks of Miami City Ballet by successfully meeting the demands of an altogether different repertory.
Miami City Ballet Artistic Director Edward Villella lost no time in hiring Alex after his audition. “I felt confident Alex would be an asset to our company, and he has exceeded my expectations,” Villella says. Alex joined its corps in 2005 and was promoted to soloist in 2007. Recently, he was named a principal soloist. Villella has such faith in Alex that he is even entrusting him with some of the precious repertory that the great George Balanchine made on the MCB director 45 years ago, like Tarantella.
Oddly enough, ballet was not Alex’s first love. “I was a hyperactive kid growing up in Vancouver,” he recalls. “I was always dancing around my bedroom. I was a stubborn kid, too. My parents wanted me to take dance lessons, but I wouldn’t hear of it.” What changed his mind? “They took me to a local school’s year-end show when I was 7. Suddenly, I loved what I saw and wanted to be a part of it,” Alex says. “I was crazy about jazz and tap, but I hated ballet class. It took a year and a half for me to realize what ballet was all about.”
Alex’s studies at Goh Ballet Academy extended and refined that realization to such an extent that, at age 17, he won the gold medal at the 2004 Prix de Lausanne competition, performing Ali’s solo from Le Corsaire and “Capture of the Tiger,” created on him by Rachael Poirier. Employment with American Ballet Theatre seemed certain once he was accepted into its junior company, ABT II. But a reduction in hiring and an oversupply of shorter guys in the company soon closed that door. However, ABT generously backed Alex in his job search, which eventually led to Miami City Ballet.
And to the stage of City Center. Last January, when MCB made its eagerly anticipated NYC debut, Alex scored a personal triumph. Audience members familiar with his competition performances were unprepared for the impact he made in Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements and the Scherzo of Symphony in C, and as one of the sneaker-shod “Stompers” in Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room. The sharpness of his line in ballon and the intensity of his focused energy were wonderfully out of proportion to his five-foot-eight, 135-pound frame.
Alex’s Balanchine repertory now includes “Rubies” from Jewels, “Melancholic” from The Four Temperaments and the first pas de trois in Agon, among others. Character roles are already beckoning; he recently donned a fat suit to play Sancho Panza in Don Quixote. And should MCB commission a postmodern choreographer who wants a guy who can nail a clean, classical á la seconde turn as well as an experimental, angular jump, Alex is up for that, too.
Photo: Lucrecia Diaz