24 U. THE NATIONAL COLLEGE NEWSPAPER
Life And Art APRIL 1988
Ballet dancer hangs up slippers for pre-med life
By Lauren Neumer
The Amherst Student
Amherst College, MA
For A. John Turjoman pre-med life at
Amherst is very different from The
American Ballet Theatre, where he
spent seven years after high school. As a
ballet dancer, he came in contact with
people like Russian dancer and ABT
Director Mikhail Baryshnikov, traveled
to cities around the world and danced
principle roles in major classical works.
Now, he is beginning his medical educa-
tion, a goal swept to the side when he
began to dance professionally. After
graduating from high school, Turjoman
faced a major decision: academics or
dancing. "I decided to try to find some-
thing I liked better than pre-med be-
cause medicine would take so long. I
didn't want to have any regrets."
During his first year in New York at
the Joffrey School, a soloist from ABT
saw Turjoman dance and offered him a
position in their scholarship training
program. For Turjoman, ABT was the
only company worth dancing for: "I
wanted to dance the classics."
Turjoman recalls his first encounter
with the legendary Baryshnikov. "I
tripped him," he laughs. "I was sitting
in the aisle of a theatre with my leg out.
Baryshnikov was sitting in front of me.
He has a habit of running out as soon as
a ballet is finished in order to avoid the
mobs of people. He got up to run and
tripped on my leg."
Accepted into ABT II, the training
The dashing A. John Turjoman infuses the role of Romeo with passion in the American Ballet company, Turjoman began touring. "I
Theatre's production of 'Romeo and Juliet' had ballets created for me. I got to work
with different choreographers, dancing
different kinds of movement-classical,
modern, etc ... " ABT renewed his con-
tract for the 1984-85 season and on New
Year's Eve, Turjoman was asked to
dance the principle role in "Romeo and
"The most amazing feeling came from
the curtain calls, because well, I was a
newcomer. People were yelling bravo,
and I was only a corps dancer really. I
did television and magazines; I had re
views. I got all carried away," he said.
"At this point, I started thinking ab-
out my own goals. After that season, I
realized I never wanted to be famous.
That wasn't why I danced-I just loved
it so much. I started looking at positions
in the 'after-dance' world-choreogra-
phy, teaching, coaching, directing.
None of it interested me. I realized I
didn't want a family in that world. I also,
didn't want to be 40 without job skills. I
always wanted pre-med. I wasn't with-
out an academic goal."
As he sits with both legs up on a chair,
one is struck by Turjoman's graceful-
ness and confidence. His posture, the
very concern which sparked his dance
career, is now impeccably straight.
When Baryshnikov asked him to repre-
sent the United States in an interna-
tional dance competition in Paris,4
Turjoman turned him down. Medicine
offered him something that dance
couldn't. "The dance world is built upon
dancers succumbing to their director's
will. They don't want dancers that have
a mind. I felt it was time for me to catch
up. I didn't even have time to read the
paper. I still dance, but I feel I have a
more balanced life now."
gets Festival spot
By Kelly Hindley
The Daily Utah Chronicle
U. of Utah
When U. of Utah student Dorna
Khazeni mailed her film Whimsy to the
Sundance Institute, she expected a
standard rejection letter in reply. Her
16mm film was, after all, only two mi-
nutes long. She wasn't an established
filmmaker; she was just a graduate stu-
dent. But instead of a rejection notice,
Khazeni received a telephone call. And
when the 1988 U.S. Film Festival
opened Jan. 15, she was the only Utah
filmmaker included in the festival.
"Part of it is a fluke," Khazeni said. "It
is, as far as I know, the tiniest portion of
the festival." But having even two mi-
nutes in one of the United States' most
influential film festivals is a crucial step
in her career, she said.
Whimsy is a film about the ambiguity
of sexual identity, Khazeni explained.
Her black and white, silent film is also
about magic, about quirky shifts in ex-
pectations. "It's insignificant as far as
the film world is concerned-it really
is," she said. "But it maintains a level of
tension for two minutes. People see it
and they like it."
Though she works three different jobs
to finance her film projects, Khazeni be-
lieves the expense and difficulty of film-
making are more than repaid by the
results. When she makes a film,
Khazeni said, "a chunk of my mind is
evidently put across to the rest of the
world-you feel like they can finally see
what you see."