Alana & Amal
Day 1: Interview
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Graham Norton, talk show host.
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
Maybe like a famous singer, that’d be fun. I think there’s good and bad with everything, being not famous is okay.
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Yes. I can’t remember how to speak when I’m on the phone, and I can’t hear very well either.
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Nice weather, waking up kind of early and walking around. Maybe meeting some friends for food somewhere? Nothing too special, just walking around.
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
I’m always singing to myself.
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Probably the body, so I can go and do things.
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
I feel like my husband is gonna die, and then I’m just going to be alive for a good 15 years after and then die from loneliness. I feel like most women live longer than their husbands. I watched this video of this 125 year old woman who just sits in her room. I don’t do anything dumb because I’m terrified of everything.
- Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
We both wear a lot of black, both photographers, both take education very seriously. I feel like we live pretty different lives, approaching NY in different ways. Yes. I feel like school here is hard but once you get into a groove it’s not that bad.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
That I’ve been born into a country and family that doesn’t have to worry every second of the day about survival, and that I’m here at Parsons.
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
My parents were extremely uptight and strict, so it made me uptight. I feel like most people would have rebelled but I did the opposite. I was really shy when I was a kid and my parents would try and force me to not be, but I think I was so stubborn I made it worse. It still haunts me to this day. I’ve never gotten better at it. I wish they had let me figure it out my own. I think my mom really cares a lot about how people see me, so she’s always watching me making sure I’m acting a certain way, but it just made me not want to be that way.
- Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
I was born in Houston Texas, my dad is from Texas and my mom is from Russia. They both worked so I went to daycare until I was 12. Went to Elementary school and started doing ballet in a small school. Then in 3rd grade I started going to Houston Ballet, which is like a professional school for dancing. When I was 13 I started doing online high school because I was doing ballet every day from 9am to 6:45, and then school after. I was fortunate to tour with ballet to a few different countries, Australia. I was in the second company, which is right before you become a professional, for two years. I hurt my heel, my back…I had a herniated disk and had to stand all day, and it was the worst time of my life. I was dancing with that, because in ballet you can’t show weakness. I think that’s also with my upbringing, ballet is probably more of my upbringing than my parents. It’s hard for me to express myself with people because I feel like I’ve always had to hide that in a ballet setting. I was super depressed and anxious because I was dealing with all the physical pain, and I got the courage to stop dancing. I started shooting photos, so I’m pretty new to it. Then [hurricane] Harvey happened and my house flooded, so I spent a year trying to figure out that. There was four feet of water in my house and we had to get rescued in a boat. It was a really strange moment, I felt like I was in a movie. Then I was applying for schools after that. I’m an only child, so it’s lonely, but I don’t know what it’s like to have siblings so I don’t miss it. My house isn’t even in the flood zone, but my whole neighborhood got flooded and it was like a trash dump. We redid the first story, so I was living on the second floor of my house for a year. The water sat in the neighborhood for 10 days after, and we had to stay with my grandparents. But, my dad has a bad relationship with them so they kicked us out. They have religious differences. I didn’t grow up religious at all. I went to church like twice because I slept over at my friend’s house.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
I would want to be able to speak a bunch of different languages or play different instruments.
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
I feel like I’d want to know my future, but then by conscious of it and be trying to change it. So I wouldn’t want to know mine.
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
I’ve always wanted to take a pottery class. That elective filled up very quickly. It just seems very fun. Or maybe to go sing in public. I sing in the subway. Nobody is really paying attention to you and it’s nice.
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Stopping ballet took a lot of mental energy.
- What do you value most in a friendship?
I like when people reciprocate. I’m not a very social person, I don’t have the desire to have a lot of friends. I think when people understand you and you don’t have to explain yourself. When they just value you as a person, that shows a lot about someone’s character.
- What is your most terrible memory?
I was doing a ballet performance called The Nutcracker, and this particular version in the second act, there are these two characters called “flying cooks.” I’m absolutely terrified of heights. I cannot do it. I was casted because I was small and could be in the harness, suspended by a cable. They would swing me out and then I’d have to grab this rope to catch myself. And we’d just go back and forth, swinging across the stage. I can’t understand people who like heights. It’s so bad. Even if I’m on a second story I get scared. If the window is open it’s ehhh. I was swinging back and going too fast, so I went through the pulley ropes. The person with the stability rope was not paying attention, so I was going to swing back out and get intertwined with the other girl. I was frantically trying to grab onto something but the only thing to grab onto was the pulley ropes. They were burning my hands as the ropes moved and I got terrible rope burn. Traumatic.
- What is your most treasured memory?
I only really remember bad memories. I feel like it’s always really little moments that I remember if they’re good. My last year of ballet, when I was dealing with a lot of shit, I went to Austin with my friends and it was just one weekend where I had no anxiety or issues. It was just really fun, and I was proud of myself for giving myself two days to forget about everything going on in my life. It was just a small weekend but I really remember it.
Part 1 (24:42):
Part 2 (40:23):
Day 2: Observations