Even when endowed, as Antonijević is, with the proper physique (read: elongated torso supported by powerful legs and arms that whisper as they hold hundred pound ballerinas aloft in the sky), a dancer can be felled by injuries or, just as devastatingly, sidelined by a choreographer for whom the God-given physical package is not to his or her liking.
Survival in ballet often has as much to do with luck as with talent as the Serbian-born Antonijević knows only too well.
His life partner of the past 13 years, the Australian-born Geon van der Wyst, had his own dancing career cut prematurely short in 2004, at age 32, after having to undergo three knee surgeries to repair damage caused by performing ballet. Van der Wyst is today a Toronto real-estate agent who found the art-filled house the couple shares with their two dogs.
“It’s traumatic to lose the one thing you love doing most in the world,” Antonijević says. “I admire the grace and strength he showed in transitioning into his next career. It’s not easy.”
By comparison, Antonijevic has enjoyed a long and relatively injury-free career. The only surgery he has ever had, he says, was for a broken ankle sustained during a recent summer vacation in Croatia. Still, he is aware that dancing can’t go on forever and has already started planning for his next role as an art and fashion photographer.
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