An Interview with Christopher Hemmans – Professional Dancer and Yoga Instructor

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Background

Christopher Hayes Hemmans was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up on Staten Island. In elementary school he sought out activities that put him on the stage. His mother was very supportive of his passion for the arts.

After two years of vocational high school, Christopher transferred to the Julia Richman performing arts school in Manhattan, where he majored in dance. During that time, he won a scholarship to the Martha Graham School and the Nanatette Beardon Contemporary Dance Theater. After graduation, he won a scholarship to the Juilliard School. He studied dance at Julliard and graduated in 1990.

While at Juilliard, he performed with the Avodah Dance Ensemble and other independent choreographers and discovered a love for movement trends in European dance. Months before graduation, he won a contract with the Rebecca Kelly Dance Company, which led to a performance tour through Germany and Poland. His last performance in America was at Lincoln Center “Out of Doors” with Gus Solomons.

In 1992, he started teaching dance in Stuttgart, Germany. Other jobs poured in … TV, print modeling, guest teaching and fashion shows. In 2000, the world of musical theater opened up for him. His musical theater portfolio now includes

The Lion King
Porgy & Bess
Dreamgirls
Hair
West Side Story
The Life
Chicago
Little Shop Of Horrors
Kiss Me Kate
Satchmo-The King Of Jazz
Crazy For You

Christopher is currently appearing in the world premiere of “ROCKY-the MUSICAL” in Hamburg, Germany. In the spring of 2012, he became a certified Bikram Yoga teacher.

Interview

1. Please explain who you are in eight words?

I’m a human being that loves human beings.

 2. What advice would you give someone doing yoga for the first time and which style would you recommend?

My advice for someone doing yoga for the first time would be to ask why you want to start practicing yoga. There are many reason …  to reduce stress, drop some pounds, find peace or make friends. From my experience, I’ve learned that a good yoga practice is also simply a matter of taste. I, for example, love to have hands-on corrections from the teacher. I am also very affected by the voice of the teacher. I have to feel I want to hear what an instructor is saying. I want to be led. For me, Bikram yoga  is still the best place to start if you’re a beginner because the benefits are so amazing. However… it’s a practice that can become addictive. Kundalini is lovely. Sivananda is wonderful. However, the singing could get on your nerves if you’re not into it. Vinyasa flow is a complete yoga. I practice Bikram mainly, but I am open for other forms.
    
3. What’s the most important thing you’ve done but didn’t want to do?

Hmmm…in retrospect, I would say moving to Germany 20 years ago. It was supposed to be a 6 month contract. 😉
 
4. When do you feel most creative?

I feel the most creative when I am cooking!!! That is the best time for me to learn text or work out new choreographies.
 
 5.  If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know?

Rhonda Byrne (The Secret – The Power). I would want to know how she feels about influencing so many lives in a positive way.

6. If you were able to spend one hour with a deceased loved one, how would you spend it?

If I were granted that gift, I would spend the hour with my father. Unfortunately, we didn’t hit it off very well. We didn’t really find each other until the end of his life. We have a complicated family history which I blamed on him. Over the years, I’d maintained a very tight relationship with my mother, but deliberately excluded my father.

As we learn, we realize that some things in life simply happen and there is no need to waste time pointing finger. I wasted a good 25 years being angry with my father when I should have just let him into my life, completely. These are issues I still deal with today. I want a perfect world and when it’s not perfect, I freak out!!! We live and learn. We can’t change the past. If I had that hour with him now, I would probably go and rent a boat and do some good ol’ fishing Staten Island Style. We’d talk. I would record the picture of his silhouette in the sunlight with his fishing cap as he watches his reflection in the water. Then, I would put my arm around him and join him. I would stare at our reflection in the water together.
            
7. What legacy do you wish to leave?

I would want people to remember my work as an entertainer and as a wonderful person … someone who helped people and made people happy.
 

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