interview by MAREK BARTEK

Numéro Netherlands Digital introduces today Alejandro Zwartendijk as the Cover Star of the day. Captured by the talented Daniel Sars, this fashion editorial, entitled ‘Denim Dance,’ is a sensual celebration of the Spring 2024 Calvin Klein Jeans collection. You can find this exclusive story in our new #10 issue ‘Frenzy.’

Let’s preface this by saying this is not your first “In Conversation With” feature. It has, however, been two years now, and so my first question would be: how have you been doing? 

It’s so crazy to me that it has been two years since my first interview in Numéro Netherlands. I remember that feature being a hint to me retiring from ballet and embarking on a new journey, and I must say it has been an absolute blast so far. I’ve changed a lot since then, of course, not only professionally but personally, as well. I’ve got to experience things and work with people I’ve never expected to, and I’m so grateful for every single one.

As you’ve already said, our last talk was a bit of a hint to you leaving the ballet. You’ve since made this decision to become a full-time content creator. How did you go around making up your mind? 

It wasn’t easy. Ballet was my number one priority since I started at the age of seven. I moved abroad, my family moved for me, I moved out when I was seventeen, and was having a great career. On the side, I was posting on social media but eventually I realised there was a lot in store for me there. Deep down I knew how many doors it could open if I dedicated my time to it full-time. 

Making that decision was terrifying but it taught me the scariest decisions are probably the best ones you make in life. I didn’t want to disappoint my family, I was scared to not be financially stable, and I knew that once I retire I would never be able to go back to ballet professionally. At least not at my old workplace. I had a lot of conversations with my friends and family but the final choice was mine to make. I decided to make this change for myself, and I officially retired in April 2022, however, I had to finish the season, which was at the end of June. All my family and friends knew but I kept it a secret from social media till a year later. 

full look CALVIN KLEIN
full look CALVIN KLEIN

Despite the fact that you don’t dance professionally anymore. Do you still like to practise, and what does ballet mean to you?

I dance every now and then, but ballet will always be a part of me. It affects how I am and present myself. People often come up to me and talk about my posture. What can I say — once a dancer, always a dancer. 

My first time dancing after I had retired was during filming my second short movie ‘Pas de Deux’ in London. Even though I really enjoyed being part of that amazing shot and working with the cast and crew, I knew I wasn’t ready to get back into dancing yet. Only in November 2023 I noticed my body aching. My back was constantly sore, my chest was closing up and my joints started to feel rusty. I rented out a studio for a few hours and did a very easy ballet class. I instantly felt better, elongating my body during barre, opening up my hips, lifting my chest, stretching my hamstrings. I was surprised how well my body reacted to it and how the movements came so naturally to me, like riding a bike. I have danced here and there but I definitely want to continue doing so in my own time by myself as a therapeutic moment.

I’m sure that being able to focus fully on one thing has its perks. What has your experience been like so far?

It’s funny because I feel like I’m focusing on so many more different things now compared to when I was dancing. I have the time to do new things, to travel and meet so many interesting people. Of course, there are things that appeal to me more than others but having the freedom to try them out is very refreshing. 

Talking about different experiences, you and Calvin Klein are coming back for yet another collaboration, following the 2023 Valentine’s Campaign. Why do you think you and Calvin Klein are such a good match?

Calvin Klein was my first ever social media collaboration back in 2021, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I feel the Calvin Klein team and I always understand each other. We know what to expect from one another, and it’s so comfortable and natural every time. I’ve worked with them on the swimwear, neutrals collection or Pride campaigns. Now, having a Calvin Klein special for Numéro Netherlands wearing their latest collection is very special indeed. From cargo denims, to Canadian tux vibe sets, to a classy white shirt or their iconic white, grey and black underwear. In my eyes, Calvin Klein will always be timeless. 

From fashion posts to cute skits about couples and everyday situations, where do you get your inspiration from? 

When it comes to fashion, I love to play around with different silhouettes and styles deriving from the basics. I just love a good full black fit or neutrals or, what they call, “old money aesthetic”. I’ve really found my way to have a well put together outfit in my day-to-day life, and have grown into trying more daring outfits when I have a chance — like fashion weeks, for example. 

As for the skits, communication has been very important to me the last few years. Even though I’ve never had a long term relationship, I kind of wanted to show people and myself, what my “perfect” relationship would look and feel like. Not only has it helped me personally but it has made me realise how easy and refreshing it actually is to communicate. 

My inspiration always comes from situations I’ve experienced in real life. I then translate them into my scrips, or scenes from the movies and shows that I really like. This helps me find the right tone of voice of a video. 

I’ve recently chatted with another content creator about the pressure of performing well, and how that can affect one’s self esteem, as well. How do you approach this whole realm of doing well and continuously creating? 

It is challenging to constantly think of new, fresh ideas for content. Creating skits doesn’t always go smoothly. I can have a creative block and not be able to come up with anything and get very frustrated, or I can put a lot of effort into a video and it doesn’t perform well. I do keep reminding myself that you never know who will see it — might be a career changing person or someone who really needed to hear that one sentence in my video, just a casual chuckle or just a video to kill time while brushing their teeth. 

I have taught myself to not stress about it too much. The algorithm is a very unpredictable thing, so there will be times everything performs well and times it doesn’t, and I have to be okay with that to be able to continue and keep creating. 

full look CALVIN KLEIN

You’ve truly gone from ballet dancer, to a content creator to an actor, you’ve worked* on yet another short movie ‘Pas de Deux’.  How did this opportunity come along?

Social media is a hallway of many doors and Sofia Soto, the director of ‘Pas de Deux’, happened to have opened one of them. She saw me on TikTok and emailed me if I wanted to be a part of the cast for her short movie. She sent me the script that I read at 1AM right after coming back from Paris fashion week. I cried a lot while reading it, and first thing in the morning I emailed her very excitedly that I would love to play the role of Dante. Not only do I dance in this movie but it’s an incredible story with layers about a friendly ghost who just needs company. I don’t have any details about when it will be out for the public but I am very excited for people to see it. 

You’ve already mentioned you play the role of ghost Dante. Could you tell us a bit more? 

I can’t share too much just yet, but in a nutshell: Dante is a ghost with a painful backstory following two lovers and a photographer. I think what really attracted me to this movie is how deep the connection is between Dante and his partner. 

full look CALVIN KLEIN

Considering that a lot of your creation happens at home filmed by yourself, how did you experience acting in front of people and working on the set? 

It was a big change going from filming at home alone with my phone to suddenly being on set with professional equipment and a crew of 15 people behind the scenes. I remember my first few scenes being nervous, and paying too much attention to everything and everyone. But the more comfortable I got, the more it felt like performing, bringing me back to my ballet days, being on stage, and getting into a character. 

You have had an incredibly successful career as a content creator so far. Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for people thinking to follow this path, as well?

Be authentically yourself with absolutely everyone, it will always make you most memorable. Being kind, humble and grateful is so easy, but keep in mind you are powerful at the same time.

Last but not least, do you have any exciting projects lined up that you can tell us a bit about? 

Social media wise, I’m very excited to be attending my second Cannes Film Festival. On top of that I’m also travelling to Indonesia, and I’m collaborating with incredible brands, some I’ve worked with for a long time, some I’m having the pleasure of working with for the first time which is all very exciting. Acting wise, I can’t say much but let’s just say I have a few scripts printed out at home that I’m studying. 

TEAM CREDITS:
talent ALEJANDRO ZWARTENDIJK
photography DANIEL SARS
styling and producer MARIE-PAULINE CESARI
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA
interview MAREK BARTEK
cover design ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN