When his mother took his six-year-old sister and him to see the Broadway musical Cats, his sister fell asleep halfway through the performance, but the four-year-old Constantine was instantly spellbound. “I can still remember the theatre in Honolulu and bits of the performance”, he says. Constantine Allen – who was born in Indianapolis, but moved to Hawaii four days before his first birthday – pestered his mother for two weeks to let him start dance classes, and in the end she agreed.
“I ended up at an all-round dance school, where all sorts of classes were given. But after just one week, when I tried my first ballet class, I knew I wanted to focus on that.” He took classes in Hawaii until the age of twelve, but, he says, “dancing isn’t a popular pastime for teenagers on Hawaii, where mostly everything revolves around surfing and water sports”, so it became clear that in order to train seriously he’d have to go abroad.
Routine and discipline
Constantine entered the Youth America Grand Prix in 2006 and at the finals in New York he won a bronze medal, which led to a scholarship for the Kirov Ballet Academy in Washington. “I enjoyed my teenage years in Washington, and it’s where I learned the routine and discipline of ballet, and of life too, in a sense.” Four years later, however, Constantine was accepted for the John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, in 2010. “I realised that my style of dancing was more European. And besides that, it was also a great opportunity to leave America and see more of the world.”
In 2012, Constantine joined Stuttgarter Ballett. Just six months later, he was promoted to soloist, followed by his promotion to principal dancer in 2013. He says he had an amazing time in Stuttgart. “I was able to grow so much there and dance so many roles.” They ranged from the princes in Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake to main roles in contemporary classics, such as John Cranko’s Taming of the Shrew and John Neumeier’s Othello.
However, after five years in Stuttgart, Constantine left his job to start working as a freelance guest artist, in order to gain different experiences and eventually find a new home somewhere. He performed mainly with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens in Montreal, as well as with Slovenian National Ballet, English National Ballet, Korean National Ballet and Dutch National Ballet, where he made his debut in 2018 as Basilio in Alexei Ratmansky’s Don Quixote and joined the company soon after. “I’d had a good time travelling as a guest artist, but when Dutch National Ballet expressed interest in me I thought it would be a great opportunity to be part of the buzz surrounding the company and its history.”
La Dame aux Camélias
Costa – as his friends and colleagues call him – now feels privileged to be able to call Amsterdam his “third home away from home”. “Dutch National Ballet is a wonderful place to keep pushing myself further, and I’m continually getting new inspiration here.” If he were to name just one highlight from recent years, it would be his role as Armand in John Neumeier’s La Dame aux Camélias, based on the novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas fils. “As dancers, we are of course ‘technicians’ and athletes, but we sometimes easily forget that our strength also lies in telling stories.”
As far as dreams go, he says, “Professionally I’ve been quite lucky. My big wish was to join a ballet company, and everything since then has been a real blessing.”
Place of birth:
Indianapolis (Indiana, USA)
With Dutch National Ballet since:
Career with Dutch National Ballet:
Previously danced with:
Pacific Ballet Academy, Ballet Hawaii, Kirov Ballet Academy, John Cranko Schule
2011: Tanzolymp Berlin (Germany), Grand Prix
2006: Youth America Grand Prix, New York, bronze medal
- 2021, 2020 and 2019: ‘Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer’, Critics’ Choice Dance Europe