Monaco Life, in partnership with the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, is proud to present a monthly series highlighting the lives and artistic work of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA’s illustrious Award winners. In this month’s exclusive interview, Princess Grace Foundation-USA’s CEO Brisa Trinchero catches up with acclaimed Princess Grace Award winner Lucien Postlewaite about his career at Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo and Pacific Northwest Ballet, as well as his new creative projects during the time of Covid, and what he misses about Monaco.
Lucien Postlewaite is a highly acclaimed Principal Dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet. Starting with his training at the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York City, his pursuit of artistic excellence has taken him all over the world, including Monaco where, from 2012 to 2017, he was a member of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo.
Monaco lovers of ballet may have seen Lucien perform principal roles in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Altro Canto, La Belle, Cendrillon, Faust, LAC, Scheherazade, and Vers un Pays Sage during his time in the Principality. In 2017, Lucien returned to Pacific Northwest Ballet but Monaco remains close to his heart.
You’ve trained at some of the most prestigious programs in the country. Tell us how you discovered your love of ballet?
Ballet has always been in me. I dance wherever I can. I’ve always been full of energy, so my parents put my energy into activities like soccer, ballet, violin and gymnastics and the one that stuck with me was ballet. It was a great outlet physically and artistically for me. So, following my training in California, I moved to New York to go to the American School of Ballet, which changed my life. I’m from a small town in Santa Cruz, which is like a surfing town. I’ve always dreamed of travel and meeting people who live all over the world but I didn’t really know how I would ever access that. And yet now, through ballet, I realise I’ve created that life for myself.
You ‘ve performed all over the world. Where does Monaco fit in to your journey?
Jean Christophe Maillot, the director of the Monte-Carlo Ballet, was here [at Pacific Northwest Ballet] when we performed his version of Romeo and Juliet. I met his whole team and they all had an attractive magnetic energy. I loved working in the studio with them – there’s an intensity level there and I’m an intense person myself, so I really vibed with that and then it just opened the door to a different realm. At that point, I had been a principal in the company for four years and was looking for the next thing.
What was it like living and dancing in Monaco?
I loved living in Monaco as an artist because we were so focused on what we were creating. I felt my life had a pretty singular focus and that for me was a great way to create art or to be invested. I found it was a bit of a struggle coming back to the US because there’s so much noise and it’s harder to maintain that singular focus.
Were you able to interact with the Monaco community while you were there?
Yes! I think Europeans have a nice way of balancing their lives. We were very focused when we were working, but I did have a lot of connections outside the ballet. Monaco is a really special place – people there are functioning at a very high level. They’ve been successful at what they do. I felt lucky that I could “rub elbows” with all these people who are leaders in their fields.
You won your Princess Grace Award in 2008. Where were you in your career and what did winning the award mean to you?
Winning a Princess Grace Award is such a prestigious honour. It was something that I always looked at from afar and wanted to be a part of. It’s had such an impact to be part of this network and family. I’ve also loved being able to help out or be involved in events in Monaco because it felt like returning something to this network that I’m part of now, and this organisation that is supporting me. I feel lucky because I think artists need that kind of support. I feel very honoured to be a part of the family.
The Princess Grace Award winner family is truly remarkable…
I have to pick my jaw up off the floor sometimes. I also love how the Foundation has grant programs that help support artists who are looking to try different things and projects, because I’m finding myself a bit at that point now. I think Covid has forced us all to look inside ourselves and figure out what else is out there. Knowing that there is an organisation that can support us is very helpful.
What has been your favourite role or performance experience?
In Monaco, we travelled and toured a lot. One of my most memorable performances was dancing in Versailles in the Orange Gardens. They built an outdoor stage and while we were dancing Romeo and Juliet, the sun was setting. The timing of everything was perfect. We were starting the balcony scene and I’m standing in the wings looking at my partner who’s on the balcony with the Versailles Palace in the background and the sun going down. It’s such a beautiful memory. I had a lot of my network in Monaco that came up to Paris and saw the show. I felt like I was surrounded by my friends, my family in this gorgeous place with so much history. I felt so fortunate to travel so much while in Monaco. We had some amazing experiences, and because we are a company that is also a kind of a cultural exchange we were always treated really well. We were under the patronage of HRH Princess Caroline of Hanover and she made our experience incredibly special.
The global pandemic has been so challenging for the arts community. How have you been spending your time?
This period helped me realise that I’m a creative person and ballet has been my vehicle. Without ballet, I’ve just continued to create. I launched a Kombucha business in June called Drink the Batch. When I was living in Monaco, I started making it for myself because it was something I loved to drink in the US, but it wasn’t very easy to find in Monaco. I started making it seven years ago and when the pandemic hit, I really pursued it. For me, food is another performative aspect. So, with my kombucha brand, I really want to create an experience for the drinkers. My branding slogan is “kombucha elevated”, which means using the highest quality ingredients and creating an experience for people who drink my kombucha.
When things open up again, do you have plans to go back to Monaco?
Monaco does feel like a home for me. I was there for five years and would love to find a way to bridge both Seattle and Monaco. I miss going to Riccardo Giraudi’s Beefbar. I have so many dear friends and dear memories from Monaco.
My time in the US was formative for me but being in Monaco transformative. It really helped me tune into to myself and a beautiful way of living. I carry that with me every day. I’m looking forward to being there, but until that time, it’s always here in my heart.
In April 2021, Lucien will perform two world premieres by Christopher Wheeldon and Alejandro Cerrudo as part of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s digital Spring Season available at pnb.org.
The Princess Grace Foundation-USA is dedicated to upholding the legacy of Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco (neé Grace Kelly), and elevating extraordinary emerging artists in theatre, dance and film through career-advancing grants.