When I first started dancing, I thought I would be a classical dancer. I really did try… I worked hard in class and practiced my Double tour en l’air until my legs hurt. I took it very seriously. All the other dancers would tell me how much fun modern was, but I was not hearing it. I loved the challenge of classical. For me it did not seem like an impossible task because I knew guys who looked like me that were doing it. Take Eric Underwood for example Ok… maybe he is a bit taller…and a proper model…but that didn’t matter to me then. Every time I would see Eric Underwood on stage, it would just push me forward. I tried harder!
Eric Underwood was born in Washington D.C. and aged 14 began training locally with Barbara Marks. At the end of his first year he joined the School of American Ballet, New York, later winning the school’s Philip Morris Foundation Scholarship. He graduated into the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 2000 and was promoted to soloist at the end of the season, before moving to American Ballet Theatre in 2003. His repertory there included Von Rothbart (Swan Lake), High Brahmin (La Bayadère), Officer (Cinderella), Gaoler and Gentleman (Manon), Apollo (Sylvia) as well as roles in The Four Temperaments, Agon, Work Within Work and In the Upper Room.
Eric is currently a Soloist of The Royal Ballet. He joined the Company in 2006 as a First Artist and was promoted to Soloist in 2008. In his first Season with the Company he created roles in Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à grande vitesse and Wayne McGregor’s Chroma. He has gone on to create roles for Wheeldon in Aeternum, Electric Counterpoint and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (the Caterpillar), and for McGregor in Chroma, Infra, Acis and Galatea, Live Fire Exercise, Raven Girl and Tetractys – The Art of Fugue. Eric is also a model with Premier Model Management and Elite Model Management in Milan.
Around my second year of Juilliard, my dream died. It is not that I gave up, but it was clearer that classical has a certain aesthetic that I didn’t fit at the time. That didn’t stop me from following Eric’s career. Actually it has been a long time now. What he has manged to do with his career is simply inspiring! He has danced for the greatest ballet companies in the world. He left America to pursue his dreams… although I have a feeling it has not been easy for him… He still inspires me even today.
Just being Eric inspires so many others. Thank you Eric for your inspiration!
What did you want to be when you grew up?Did you always want to do what you are doing now?
When I was child I thought of becoming a kindergarten teacher but I’ve always danced even before any formal training…
Favorite thing to eat?
My favorite thing to eat have to be a cheeseburger and a Oreo milkshake ..
My favorite book is a photography book by Herb Ritts…
My favorite movie would have to be “Mommy Dearest”
Favorite dance piece?
My favorite dance piece to watch would have to be “Etudes”
I like dancers who…
I like dancers who are uninhibited and free on stage to be in the moment….
I am afraid of…
I’m afraid of living in fear of anything or anyone.. freedom is the opposite of fear for me…
A dance piece should…
A dance piece should provoke thought and inspire…
Something you would like to do ?
Currently I’m a dancer but I’d love to introduce children to world of ballet that may not have ballet in there life otherwise …
One of the happiest moments in your life?
After a show when a eight year old little boy after a show a stage door said “mommy he looks like me I wanna do dancing stuff too” it was a really special moment for me…
One your coolest experiences?
Being photographed by David Bailey in the nude for GQ style…
Most embarrassing moment in your career?
On tour in Mexico when my trousers fell to my ankles doing the sleeping beauty leaving me on stage in a dance belt center stage …a mess lol..
Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?
I’m lucky to have encouraging friends and family but I have to say I’ve been mostly self driven simply because know one will want for you like you want for yourself…
One of the hardest things about your job?
The hardest thing about my job is that it’s a lifestyle therefore I have huge emotional attachments to my work and I find it difficult to leave work at work it’s my life….
Do you have any goals you still wish to achieve?
I have goals I haven’t fulfilled I’d love to get a chance to share some of my experiences in this profession both socially and artistically with the next generation …I’d love to give back!
Something you would change in the DANCE world?
I can’t say what I would change about the dance world because my experience has been that of ballet dancer and in saying that I would change the idea that ballet dancers are all similar in appearance ….
Something you would change in the REAL world?
I wouldn’t change anything about the real world ..I believe we need to experience hardship, love , regret and every other emotion in order to be an artist you MUST live….
A piece of advice for aspiring artists?
Stay true to who you are and don’t be afraid to make mistakes…