Personality Test: Yoland Collin

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Yoland Collin, who has been company pianist for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre since 2003, lives in Morningside with his wife, Sonya, and their daughter, Emma, 4½. He plays reductions of orchestra scores for piano solo at rehearsals and sometimes plays solo, chamber music or with orchestra at performances.

Collin was born in a small town in Belgium and met his wife, a Pittsburgh native, when she went to his country to visit some distant relatives. They both speak French and are helping Emma to speak the language, too.

Off work, he enjoys taking his daughter to the park, and for reading, he prefers biographies because they have a connection to real people. He's also looking forward to getting back on his bike, which has gone unused since his daughter was born.

Collin views his job as akin to chamber music but with dancers, and he enjoys finding viable compromises between the needs of the choreography and respect for the music's own qualities.

The star who would play me in the movie version of my life:

I would love to be able to say Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp, but I guess Adrien Brody would be more suited.

The piece of memorabilia from my childhood I wish I still had:

My insouciance.

I can't live without my: iPod, cell phone, DVR or laptop?

My smartphone. Without it, I feel like I am missing a limb.

Favorite brunch food:

I rarely do brunch. I am either up early enough for breakfast or so late that it's time for lunch.

The superpower I wish I had in real life:

The ability to read people's minds. This would save me from a lot of torment and disappointments.

Best mistake I've ever made:

Accepting to play a two-hour ballet class for PBT two weeks after moving to the United States. I had never played for ballet before and had no idea what it entailed. I went home that day with the biggest headache of my life ... and a budding career.

In five years, I'd like to:

Be a better musician ... a lifelong process.

Pick one:

A. Go-Gos

B. Goo-Goo Dolls

C. Lady Gaga

D. Yo Gabba Gabba

Not sure who A and B are? I have heard of C, but as the father of a 4-year-old who has me wrapped around her finger, I will have to go with Yo Gabba Gabba.

My childhood nickname:


Favorite guilty pleasure:

A (few) fancy Belgian beer(s).

Pick one:

A. Pirates

B. Penguins

C. Steelers

D. Other

E. I hate sports

I am definitely not a sports fan, although I have been caught enjoying a good tennis game on TV on several occasions.

My favorite Pittsburgh athlete:

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers, of course. (Not even trying to earn brownie points here, I swear!)

Something I would do over if I could:

I try not to dwell on the past, but rather learn from it.

Exercise I hate most:

Scales! (I am a pianist, remember?)

Favorite lunchtime spot:

Always on the lookout for a new spot with my friend, Bob. Lately, The Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville.

Top thing on my ‘Bucket List' to do before I'm gone:

To make sure that my daughter has grown up to be a happy, successful and autonomous (and very old) woman.

My favorite reality show:

I despise all of them with fervor!

Three people I'd love to have dinner with:

My late Dad (what can I say, I miss him), Sergei Rachmaninov (I would love to get to know the man behind all the gorgeous music) and ... God (to make sure he really exists and to ask him a few very important questions).

Star I'd like to dance with on “Dancing With the Stars”:

The one who is not afraid of losing a couple of toes.

My favorite sandwich, plus fixings:

The Meal Deal from the GetGo on Butler Street — a delicious 6-inch toasted deli-meat sub with provolone, lettuce, tomato, olives and mayo, plus a bag of chips and a soft drink!

One word my mother would use to describe me:


Celebrity crush:

Whitney Houston was my big celebrity crush as a teenager. Have not had one since then.

My favorite thing about Pittsburgh:

It is so affordable to live here, on top of people being genuinely friendly and welcoming.

My favorite Web site:

My first job:

Cherry picker, a summer job when I was 12

My worst job:

Farm boy — stacking hay bales on a flatbed truck for six hours a day was extremely hard work. I only lasted a couple of days.

The oldest thing in my refrigerator:

The 14-year-old turkey wishbone from my wedding.

When I was 10, I wanted to be:

Just like my 14-year-old brother. He was so cool and mature and old!

Saturday mornings, you'll find me:

Calling my mom on Skype.

Best new gadget I've tried recently:

Logitech TV Cam HD, Skype on the TV. Hi Mom!

If I was auditioning for “American Idol,” my song would be:

Booed, for sure!

The first band I saw in concert:

Francis Cabrel at Forest National in Brussels in 1994. He wrote several songs which, to this day, are still very popular in French-speaking European countries.

The best concert I've ever seen:

Maybe not the best concert but certainly the most intriguing one was hearing Valery Afanassiev in Beethoven's 5th piano concerto with the Orchestre Royal de Liege some 20 years ago.

TV marathon I could watch all day:

“Frasier” because it is so well-written and acted.

Favorite Pittsburgh-area landmark:

Oakland, the area near the Carnegie Library and Phipps Conservatory. Art galore!

The person I'm most often mistaken for:

Well, I have been told that from the back, 60 yards away and on a very dark, moonless night, I look a lot like George Clooney.

My most treasured fashion accessory:

Not an accessory, but I have to admit I am quite fond of my Calvin Klein tuxedo.

What you'll always find in my glove compartment:

An underused Swiffer Duster.

If I wasn't a musician, I'd be:

An insurance broker. I seriously considered taking over my dad's business before ultimately deciding on becoming a professional musician.

My favorite Pittsburgh pizza:

Technically not a pizza, but the cheese and tomato manakish from Salem's Market & Grill on Penn Avenue in the Strip is quite scrumptious.

My most memorable fashion mistake:

Wearing Hawaiian shirts when I was 14, growing up in rainy Belgium.

The last book I read:

“Sacred Sites of the Knights Templar” by John K. Young

The worst advice I ever received:

This is America, you should have debt!

Life would be better without:

Hypocrites and people who refuse to communicate.

If I could tour with any two bands, they would be:

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra or the Wiener Philharmoniker ... one can dream!

People would be surprised to know that I:

Saw my first ballet when I was 26, shortly after I moved to Pittsburgh. It was “Swan Lake” at the Benedum, performed by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

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