Born in Napa, CA, US, Ethan Jiahao Chudnow trained at San Francisco Ballet School. He danced with Boston Ballet II and San Francisco Ballet before joining Hong Kong Ballet in 2019 as a Corps de Ballet member.
With HKB, his featured roles include Don Quixote in Nina Ananiashvili’s Don Quixote and Nana the Dog, Crocodile and Gentleman Starkey in Septime Webre’s Peter Pan. Chudnow also performed in John Meehan’s Swan Lake, Terence Kohler’s The Nutcracker, Webre’s ALICE (in wonderland) and Ballet Classics for Children: Cinderella as well as George Balanchine’s Jewels. Prior to joining the Company, he performed in Helgi Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker, Harald Lander’s Etudes, Trey McIntrye’s Your Flesh Shall Be A Great Poem, Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein, John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid, Tomasson/Possokohv’s Don Quixote and Justin Peck’s Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes, among others.
1. Why do you dance?
To make people feel what I feel. Dance is such a generous art form─it is a constant cycle of giving to the audience and receiving something back. The feeling of being appreciated for what you are able to offer is what constantly fuels my drive.
2. What does ballet mean to you?
To me, ballet is a way of communicating without words, but it also means trickery in the fullest sense. When I watch ballet, I’m enthralled by those who completely embody their character. That feeling, watching someone who is truly invested in the present moment, is what I think ballet is all about.
3. Most memorable/weird onstage moment and why?
My most memorable moment onstage was performing Trey McIntyre’s Your Flesh Shall Be A Great Poem. The piece opens and closes with a male solo, the latter performed in nothing but boxer briefs and a wooden stool used as a prop. It was my first time being alone on stage.
4. How do you unwind after a show?
I like to get something to eat with friends, find ways to relax and enjoy the feeling of completing something you’ve worked so hard for. It’s important to stop and smell the roses sometimes.
5. What keeps you motivated on tough days?
What keeps me motivated on tough days is the constant longing to be better than I was the day before. On days I don’t feel especially inspired, I think about where I want to be in the future and what I can do in the present moment to keep myself heading in that direction.
6. If you could have one more talent, what would it be?
To have the acrobatic skills of a gymnast. I’m always awed when someone can do crazy tricks and flips with such ease.
7. What is the coolest thing about being a dancer?
In my opinion, the word “dancer” is just a label. At the end of the day, we are all human, and I think the coolest thing about being human is the ability to share an emotion through your expression of choice. As a dancer, I express myself through the way I move my body, but what drives that is the emotion I feel from being human. In that way, being a dancer is just like being anything else, and to strive to achieve the pinnacle of one’s career is simply to strive to become a better human.
8. If you can have a superpower, what would it be?
If I could have any superpower, it would definitely be to fly.