The Dressing Room of a Ballerina

Oh to be a fly on a ballerina’s dressing room wall. A space just for us amongst our tutus and friend

The theatre becomes a dancer’s second home, a place where we spend at least 50% or more of our daily waking hours. We work there, we eat there, we shower, dress and sleep there. Our friends are usually with us and its the place we do what we love most, dance.

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My first year at the Hammond School with my fellow dancers at our end of year production – Ruth Bailey, Risa Nakagawa, Anna Haresnape, Katrina Budzynski

It’s because of all these reasons that it becomes a very important building for us, and one of the most important rooms in this building is our dressing rooms.

This is where the beauty of ballet meets the ugly on a daily bases

When I was younger and performed once or twice a year in a theatre the dressing rooms were already one of the best parts and when I was part of a dance school, I remember it being so exciting to get our dressing rooms, all the girls together just like the professionals – we were just so grown up. And I was probably deep down even more excited when I first joined a professional company and found my own permanent spot in the dressing room. I had made it.

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During a performance of Variations Sérieuses (Photo: Admill Kuyler)

Since then it has become the norm and a little place of sanctuary throughout my days as a dancer. Now, I warn you, dressing rooms aren’t usually the most glamorous of spaces (not to mention the spiders), and I am sure we all wish they were a little more ‘old movie star glam’ but what they actually are is really lived in rooms that see all of our good days and bad.

I have shared so many moments with the girls in among our mess

Each ballerina has their own light surrounded mirror, their pointe shoes hanging haphazardly, personal momentoes placed here, there and everywhere; of memories on stage and of loved ones back home. Each spot organized (or not so organized) to suit the girl. With tutus and bathrobes hanging amongst one another, a bed for those long days and power naps in the corner, piles and piles of leotards and tights amoungst sewing needles and Jet Glue. This is where the beauty of ballet meets the ugly on a daily bases.

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In our group dressing room at the Badisches Staatstheatre Karlsruhe with Sujung Lim & Larissa Moto

However, not only is the room filled with dance randomness. Each day it is buzzing with the dancer’s emotions. Once that door is closed behind us we can let go. It’s a place of refuge, where we can collapse on the floor during the interval, or express our irritations of a rehearsal. Cry when it’s all too much or laugh out loud about it all. I have shared so many moments with the girls in among our mess, laughing and crying, complaining and encouraging. We have experienced every situation together within those four walls and it holds not only our belongings but our achievements and problems. A place we can let it all out so we can keep it all in once on the other side of the door.

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While at the Royal Ballet School with the girls in my year – Hannah Carter, Imogen Chapman, Emily Downs, Mari Kawanishi & Nicole Cato

I know that when I will look back on my career I will have amazing memories of the stage and studio but I will also keep close to me the beautiful and difficult moments I experienced in my dressing room.

With love,

Harriet

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