Dancers' careers are fragile. A wrong move or two and injuries await. Then it's on to teaching or (if you've got the talent) choreography. Eddie Kastrau has managed not only to survive but to thrive during two decades with the Danny Grossman Company, as he demonstrates in the premiere this week of Grossman's Greatest Hits, Volume Two, the second instalment of the choreographer's signature pieces. See Dance Listings.
There are a lot of senior Grossman dancers on this bill, like Randy Glynn and Pam Grundy. Do these rehearsals feel different than those before a typical Grossman show?
"There's a lot more mentoring happening between the older and newer dancers. And I think the newer dancers are respecting it. We're not just old farts. There's this feeling that the senior dancers still have it and there's lots to pass on."
How do you explain your longevity?
"Danny's work suits my body. I did a lot of track in high school and my body's more like a soccer player's than your typical long, thin dancer. Danny's work is very track-and-fieldish, with jogging, deep squats, high jumps. Plus, I take care of myself by eating well, not drinking too much. I never smoked."
I thought dancers were big smokers.
"They used to be. We've only got one smoker in the company now. Beer drinking's still rampant in the dance world, though."
What gets tougher as you get older?
"Getting up from the floor. Landing is still good, but those quick muscle ligaments that push you up have a will of their own. They don't fire up the way they used to. So you have to build up more muscle to work up into a jump."
What things do you bring to the works that you didn't starting out?
"When you're young you rely on your physicality. If you can jump really high or get your leg up really high, you do it. You're more concerned with how it looks. As you get older you start to think more about what it means. Not that we older dancers don't still look good."
What's your favourite work on this program?
"Endangered Species. When I auditioned for Danny, we did a lot of movement from it, and I still feel a strong connection with it. Danny's works are so theatrical. You don't get that much, especially in modern dance, which is so cerebral. With Danny it was magic at first move."
Grossman's known for his issue-based works. Has that dated them?
"Absolutely not. There's always going to be war. We're still fighting things like homophobia. Hear The Lambs A Cryin' is about persecution over race. Bella is a beautiful piece about lovers. These things are universal."
Additional Audio Interview Clips
Kastrau on dancing the demanding solo from last year's Grossman Greatest Hits Vol. 1
Kastrau on teaching the Grossman rep to younger dancers