Artist Spotlight: Matthew Adamczyk

Seven years ago, a young student at Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida went to an audition mainly to avoid a 6-hour rehearsal scheduled for that afternoon.  “I’ll hang out in Fort Lauderdale,” he said.  “That’s fine.”  That day of playing hookie got Matthew Adamczyk a job with the Joffrey Ballet.  They offered it to him on the spot.  Fast forward to today and he is cultivating an ever-expanding repertory of Joffrey roles, while honing his other artistic passion — painting.  From custom building blocks for a friend’s nursery to a mural painted at a regional theater while on tour for The Nutcracker to hand-painted clothing (oh, he’s also thinking of getting into fashion design), Adamczyk is keeping busy and keeping his creativity cranked at full force.  He can be seen performing this weekend as an Ugly Stepsister and a cavalier to the Fairies of the Four Seasons in the Joffrey’s production of Cinderella at The Auditorium Theatre.  On a rare day off – thanks MLK! – we sat down to talk about his dance career and his growing portfolio of artwork.

Rogue Ballerina:  You’ve been at Joffrey since 2003, what’s your favorite part you’ve done so far?

Matthew Adamczyk:  I would have to say “Iago” in Othello – hands down.  I think that will always be my favorite…

Adamczyk as Iago in Othello - photo by Herbert Migdoll

RB:  You were perfect for it. Was it hard to prepare for that role?

MA:  It was pretty difficult.  Fortunately they had the professional filming of San Francisco Ballet and I got a chance to really study how Parrish Maynard did it.  He’s just a phenomenal dancer to begin with.  I really had a good opportunity to kind of play with the character and Lar (Lubovitch) was very open to the idea of me finding my own Iago, which was great.  I read the story.  I studying different aspects of the story through Shakespeare, through movies…and just kind of tied a little bit of everything together, kind of old Hollywood ideas.

RB:  So, going from that to Ugly Stepsister…

MA:  I’m still a villain.

Adamczyk as Ugly Stepsister

RB:  Just a funnier version.

MA:  The reason I asked Ashley (Wheater) if I could do Stepsister was to be able to work on my comedic abilities.  Because I can do drama really well, that’s not an issue, but to actually be funny on stage is a big stretch for me.  I’ve never delved into that yet.  So, this will be a first.

RB:  You and Willy (Shives) will be the Stepsisters…for the entire run?

MA:  There are two casts.  Willy and I are together and Michael Smith and David Gombert are together, which is a deadly duo, I must say.

RB:  Are you enjoying comedy or do you find it hard?

MA:  I enjoy it.  I enjoy comedy, it’s a good challenge.  It’s fun.  The thing that will make it the hardest is that the costume weighs about 30 pounds, with the bustle, the dress, the two petticoats underneath…it’s a lot.  (Laughing.)  It’s going to be a funny, funny production for sure.  I enjoy it.  You can’t really be over-the-top with…either being a villain like Iago or being a comedic…timing is key for everything.  I’m also one of the four cavaliers.  I have to say that is the hardest thing…to have an hour of rehearsal in heels doing something bad to having to switch gears and go right into double tours and men’s steps.  I give credit to any woman who wears heels.

RB:  What’s after Cinderella?

MA:  The Spring program with mixed rep.  Two world premieres and Gerald Arpino’s Reflections.  I’m in both world premieres and I’m in Reflections.  It’s going to be good.  It’s challenging for me.  Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to do a triple-header, which I would prefer…to do all three ballets in one night and then have a night off.

RB:  Then you get the summer off?

MA:  We have 9 weeks off, which is convenient, but it’s also unemployment.  That’s why I’m really pushing to get paintings done, so come May I can sell some and have some form of income.

RB: Nice segue.  Let’s talk about your paintings.  Have you always painted?  Did you study it in school?

I did.  When I was in high school, I took art classes constantly and my senior year I took Advanced Placement Portfolio.  That was a really good opportunity to focus on my technique, my style…

RB:  Was it building a portfolio or creating one so that you had something to show?

MA:  Both.  There were still guidelines that you had to follow…using this medium, drawing this item…to really kind of fine tune your talents.  Fun story.  When I was in school, my teacher selected one of my paintings to enter into the Arts & Writing Competition…the Scholastic Arts & Writing for the state of Florida and it won a Gold Key.  All Gold Key members, from all the state competitions, went to be judged nationally.  So, it was on display at the Guggenheim Museum for two months.  It didn’t do anything at nationals…but still, it was at the Guggenheim.  That my claim to fame so far with my paintings.

RB:  That was a good start, I’d say…while still in high school.  Do you sketch, paint, acrylics, multi-media…?

MA:  I do mostly acrylic paintings now…I also do charcoal drawings.  Those are the two that I focus on.  The acrylics are very Lichtenstein/Andy Warhol.  That’s where I find a lot of my inspiration, from pop art.  The charcoals are very lifelike.  A lot of people ask, when they look at the tiger…ask if it’s a photo.  I like doing charcoal – it’s just extremely time consuming.

RB:  More so than painting?  Is it the shading?

MA:  It’s the shading, the blending, getting the texture just right where the painting, because it’s a pop art style, it’s just bold colors, stripes, dots…although I have to say the dots, the benday dots are extremely time consuming too.

This is the Guggenheim painting.  It’s actually a scratchboard.  You start with a black, Indian ink-covered piece of paper and you scrape away the highlights with a little razor blade.  One wrong stroke and you have to start again or you just make it white.

RB:  What do you want to accomplish with your painting?

MA:  Right now I’m just working on a collection.  I’m getting a lot of commission work, but unfortunately with that, the painting is out the door as soon as it’s done.  Hopefully I can career transition into painting full-time.  I figured I’d get a jump-start now.

RB:  That’s smart.

MA:  Yeah, with dance, you never know.

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