Ask Me Anything

Sharing a video answering ten questions about me and my ballerina life for an ‘Ask Me Anything’

The life of a Ballerina can be quite an interesting one and very different to any other lifestyle there is. As I love sharing with you what I get up to through my blog and social media, I wanted to do an ‘Ask Me Anything’ to answer some of the many questions people are often wondering about us dancers.

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Performing one of my favourite roles ‘Juliet’ with Juliano Tuscano as my ‘Romeo’ (Photo: Admill Kuyler)

I got a great response through Instagram and some amazing questions, so much so I think I may have to turn this video into a series of videos to give as many answers as possible.

Thank you to everyone who asked me something, I loved answering them and it is also a great way to inspire me on things I should write about for the future. If anyone out there has a question for a ballerina please write to me and ask, I would be honoured to answer. 

Hope you enjoy the video and keep your eyes open for more.

With love,

Harriet

The End of My Karlsruhe Era

A week to go of the season here in Karlsruhe and I want to look back all I have gone through here and share with you all what is to come

As the end of our ballet season in Karlsruhe is approaching fast, the time for big changes is also on the horizon, and with this post, I want to share with you the next step I am planning to take in my career and personal life.

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On stage performing as Anastasia in ‘Sleeping Beauty – The Last Daughter of the Czar’
a ballet by Youri Vámos

This season will actually be my last with the Staatsballett Karlsruhe and I will be eagerly joining the Salzburg Landestheater Ballet Ensemble at the beginning of August. A company I have had my eye on for a while and a place I hope will bring many different and exciting opportunities my way.

❝Karlsruhe Ballet has been my home for nine seasons, giving me more than I ever thought I would have❞

With such a change coming I am both excited and apprehensive for what is to come and at the same time very sad and nostalgic about having to say goodbye to a place I have been for my whole career so far. Karlsruhe Ballet has been my home for nine seasons, giving me more than I ever thought I would have. I have grown from an inexperienced school girl with no confidence into a woman with numerous ballets under her belt – something I never thought I would be able to say, and a life I am so lucky to have.

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Performing during my very first season here in Karlsruhe

Within the nine years, the opportunities to develop my artistry, technique, stamina, capability and love for dance have been endless. Each season learning how to be a better dancer and person, handling situations I have found difficult in the past with more ease as I got older. The stage has become a place I can relax into, rather than a hole that swallows me up, even in roles that felt larger than life at times. And despite the difficult times that come with every job, I can honestly say I have loved my time being a part of this company and I will be forever grateful for the years I have had here.

Not only have I danced amazing roles but I take with me amazing moments with amazing people – days filled with not only hard work and dedication but love and laughter. I have learned from and worked alongside so many brilliant people. I have formed life long friendships with people I will miss very much and will strive to keep in my life, even from a distance, for it has been these people who have filled my days with sunshine and pulled me through the moments I couldn’t have done alone. They have been true friends.

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With my better half after my final premiere in Karlsruhe

I was even lucky enough to meet my husband and create a life with him here – me introducing him to the world of dance and him opening my eyes to the real one. Karlsruhe was the place we first met and have made our first home. We will miss our life here very much but this change is a huge step for us and we are hoping to have more time together and move on in so many ways. I just can’t wait.

Now, not only is life changing for me but actually for the whole Staatsballett Karlsruhe. The theatre will be introducing a new ballet director next season, along with her new repertoire and dancers filling the stage for the foreseeable future. Therefore it will be a very exciting time for Karlsruhe and its ballet goers.

With this change happening in the theatre it gave me the perfect opportunity to test the waters and spread my wings to try somewhere new. The company as I know it will not be here anymore, so I won’t be able to miss it in a way. I do hope Ballet Karlsruhe has a bright future ahead of it and it will be so interesting for me to come back to see how much the place has changed. 

❝A good chance to be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone

So with this being our final season as the company we are, of course, we need to go out with a bang and this last year has definitely been that way from day one. We have had such a busy season and still have a lot to go till we can raise a glass at the finish line. I can truly say I have loved my last season here with all my heart. I tried so much to focus on the positive that no matter how difficult, dramatic or stressful it got I haven’t really realised.

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Members of Staatsballett Karlsruhe after the premiere of ‘Tannhauser’

My main goal was to enjoy performing as much as possible and try to believe in myself more. I have had so many opportunities to rise up to challenges but aimed to face them with positivity rather than fear. I have never felt stronger in my dancing and the will to improve is still going strong. I have met more of the fans and received so much kindness from them that it makes me so sad to leave them. I feel I am known here and people come to the ballet to watch me(!) and tell me how much they appreciate my dancing. This being the most encouraging bonus I could bring with me when I go.

I have soaked up the moments with my friends and colleagues, trying not to miss out on anything. And however sad I am about leaving here I am happy I can leave on top, feeling satisfied with this part of my life and content with all I have experienced here.

Change is always hard but I am happy to try new things and I think no matter how hard, it is always a good chance to be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons. Thank you, everyone, who made my happiness possible here, I hope I can leave a small mark on Karlsruhe for it has left a huge one on me. Thank you so so much.

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Riding off into happiness as Kate in ‘Taming of the Shrew’ (Photo: Admill Kuyler)

Come visit me in Salzburg and I will keep you all informed of my new life in the Alpes.

With love,

Harriet

 

Inspiration All Around Us

Where do you find your inspiration? I find my inspiration in you

We all need a little inspiration in life and we all find it in different places. It can come from the simplest of things, like a sunny morning helping you get out of bed or a good song brightening your mood. Inspiration can be found almost anywhere and I think one of the strongest inspirations we have out there can be each other. Humans inspiring humans.

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Performing La Sylphide from the inspirational Peter Schaufuss

I wanted to touch on this topic because recently I have received a few messages and responses to my dancing and what I am writing about on here that have been so encouraging for me. Messages from people who I haven’t even met, and yet they kindly took the time to let me know that from watching me dance or reading my blog they have thoroughly enjoyed it and been inspired by it. Continue reading “Inspiration All Around Us”

The Spinning World of Dance

Dance can take people half way across the world to share their talents with new colleagues and audiences, giving us the chance to connect with people we would never know other wise

The world is a small place. But the dance world is even smaller. And you wouldn’t believe how international every school or company is around the world. I have had friends from everywhere and there is a huge chance that they know people I have met in school or in other companies. And there is even a bigger chance they are from a different country and are now living in a different country to that due to dance.

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Faces from all over the world together on one stage

In my experience alone – I have shared a room with a Norwegian girl and became friends with a bunch of Australians during my school time. When I started working I joined the company with an American, Israeli and Austrian. I created life long friendships with a Korean, French and a Belgian. I have shared a dressing room with a Spaniard, Czech, and many Japanese girls. I have partnered Brazilians, Chinese, Armenians and Italians. I have worked with teachers and choreographers from too many places to remember and the list goes on of international friends, co-workers and associates I have met because of my chosen profession.

❝We are able to form very close bonds to people we would never have met if it weren’t for dance

Continue reading “The Spinning World of Dance”

Grabbing on to that Second Chance

Sometimes life gives you a second chance, even in ballet, and it’s always what you do with those moments that counts. So when my second chance to dance a huge role came around I really wanted it to mean something

Second chances. Moments we wish we could redo. Turn the clocks back and try again. Another opportunity to improve on experiences or approach them at a different age to see how we would handle it now. Who doesn’t want a second chance at moments in their life? And as a dancer I can tell you, it is often a wish of mine to have the chance to perform a role once more for these exact reasons.

Little did I know it wasn’t quite the end of that chapter

In my previous post, ‘Never Say Never’, I wrote about my fortunate moments of getting second chances and what I gained from them, but I think having Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Swanlake’ come back into my life this season is possibly the biggest chance for me to see what has changed after six years of professional performing.

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Performing as Odette with Zhike Xu as Prince Siegfried (Photo: Jochen Klenk)

Continue reading “Grabbing on to that Second Chance”

Never Say Never

Just when you think a ballet is behind you, they have a tendency to come back and teach you something new

I have often been proved wrong when thinking I was dancing something for the last time. Just when you think the curtain has gone down on a particular role or piece it ends up finding its way back to you. And more often than not, it’s the ones you were glad to say goodbye to.

❝It seemed like an impossible thing for me to ever dance & I never imagined I would have the opportunity to give it a go❞

Recently this seems to be happening a lot to me and it is proving to not be such a bad thing after all. For this post, I want to share two particular pieces that have found their way back to me and dedicate another to the recent return of our Swanlake and my upcoming shows of Odette/Odile, which I think definitely needs its own mention.

So for now, I take you back to the end of last season when we performed Kenneth McMillan’s ‘Concerto’ in our yearly gala here in Karlsruhe. ‘Concerto’ is a one-act ballet in three movements choreographed in 1966 for the Berliner Ballett and was staged for the Royal Ballet Touring Company in 1967. Our company had to learn it in just two weeks with Julie Lincoln teaching and staging the piece. This ballet was not completely new to me as I performed ‘Concerto’ while at The Royal Ballet School for my graduating performance in 2010. I was part of the third movement assemble, and now, 8 years later, I was cast for the third movement Solo Girl.

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Backstage of the Royal Opera House at the age of 18 during ‘Concerto’ rehearsals

I was delighted, albeit a little nervous to be chosen to dance this role as I remember admiring the girl who performed it at school. At that time it seemed like an impossible thing for me to ever dance and I never imagined I would have the opportunity to give it a go. At that age and time in my life, dancing such a solo was the scariest thing I could imagine. Continue reading “Never Say Never”

Pain as a Constant Companion

Reflecting on my interview with Sarah Nagel about my career and life as a ballet dancer

When Sarah Nagel, a journalist and friend, asked if I would like to be interviewed by her for the Sunday newspaper here in Karlsruhe I jumped at the opportunity. It was a pleasure to wake up this morning with my face on the front page and a beautifully written article to read while sewing pointe shoes on my day off. I have to admit reading about yourself over morning coffee is a joy, but another part of doing interviews I really appreciate is getting the chance to remind myself of where I have been and where I am now.

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‘Pain as a Constant Companion’ is the translated title of Sarah’s article in ‘Der Sonntag” as Sarah wanted to know the personal difficulties I have faced as a student and professional dancer and we talked about the hardship of physical and mental pain ballerinas face.

Things that affected me so much at a younger age seem so small now

Continue reading “Pain as a Constant Companion”

WORLD BALLET DAY 2018

🌸🌸HAPPY WORLD BALLET DAY🌸🌸
I hope everyone enjoys dancing around in their tutus and tiaras or even socks and sweats – joining together to celebrate one of the most beautiful and special art forms there is.
Stay tuned all day with companies around the world streaming life from the studio and stage:
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Performing as the Sylph in Peter Schaufuss’s La Sylphide

With love,

Harriet

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. Continue reading “The Dressing Room of a Ballerina”

Goals of the Dancer

Setting your own personal goals to get you from one company goal to the next

Each season ballet companies have the exciting chance to work towards and bring to life premieres. Whether that’s a world premiere of a new creation or the first time that particular company performs a ballet, they are always a huge highlight of the year.

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❝The goal that has been the main focus within the whole ballet company is reached❞

The process involves resident or guest choreographers/teachers coming to the theatre and working with the dancers – creating or teaching the steps and staging the whole production. Weeks if not months are spent putting the piece together and it will be the main focus of the company the majority of that time. Other performances are often performed during the preparation time but there will be much happening behind the scenes for the premiere. Continue reading “Goals of the Dancer”