We had the good fortune of connecting with Robert Sher-Machherndl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robert, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
One the most important decision I have ever made was to emigrate to the United States. This came after completing a full and successful stage career in Europe. It was certainly helped by being granted an “Alien of Extraordinary Abilities” visa by the US government allowing me permanent residence in this country. The opportunity presented whole new beginning, and allowed me to reinvent myself as a choreographer, and explore contemporary movement in new and surprising ways. I am very grateful for this.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I began to dance at eight years old studying classical ballet in my native city Vienna, Austria. I was born to be a ballet dancer, I cannot say it any other way. From a young age, starting with my training I’ve known myself to be an artist which I ‘ve always expressed through dance. The professional ballet career requires much discipline and repetition, there is the taking of daily class to precisely tune the body and master artistry to prepare for live performance. I was propelled to the forefront of the dance world at a young age by becoming a Principal Dancer with renowned companies such as Dutch National Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet; Netherlands Dance Theater. Some highlights of my principal roles include John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet; and Onegin; Sir Peter Wright’s Swan Lake; Sleeping Beauty; Giselle; George Balanchine’s; Apollo; Argon; Symphony in C; Diamonds … and many more. In 1996 I was awarded an Alien of Extraordinary Ability visa by the United States Government allowing me to make Colorado my new home. Here I established Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet where I’ve developed multiple choreographies, and a large body of work. World premieres have been performed locally at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts and Chautauqua Summer Series but also experienced in New York, San Francisco, Helsinki Finland, London England and Vienna Austria. None of these accomplishments are straight forward or simple. Being a working artist requires determination, ability to shake off rejection. I’ve learned this to be a personal solo journey, often in direct contrast to what the audience may believe of a performer.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have lived in Boulder for 25 years and have many favorite spots nestled in the surrounding foothills. I believe some of the most beautiful hikes are Betasso Preserve and Mount Sanitas. I am a fan of the original branch of The Kitchen restaurant in Boulder. And, in Denver I am a fan of the Clifford Still Museum as its always a source of inspiration. Also the McNichols Civic Center Building is also a must visit!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to offer my shoutout to the numerous artists and collaborators that have shown up along this journey. Someone who lives in the forefront of my mind is life partner Jenifer Sher co-director of Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet. Our brave and talented founding company members Tessa Victoria, Lesley Potashnick, Anna Blackburn Wittman, Tala McDonnough and Shannon Guillot. And, gratitude toward our sponsors, funders and supporters who are generous enough to make this project a reality!
Photography: Melanie Watson David Andrews Vienna State Ballet, Austria