As the applause subsides and silence falls throughout the auditorium, there’s chance for one last breath in the wings. Then the smile is adjusted and the walk to centre stage begins. The moments before performing a solo can be very nerve-wracking ones. Time is up. It is only you and the music, and all eyes are on you. You can’t practice that pirouette one last time, you can’t work on your stamina anymore. All that work is done. It’s go time.
❝With my confidence hitting rock bottom at times, even stepping on stage was terrifying❞
When I remember back to the very first solo I performed in my first year as a professional dancer all I recall are the nerves. I was part of the Pas de Trois in Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake and my little solo was the biggest thing I had done so far in my career. It was my first chance to dance alone on stage, and it was scary.
During my younger education, I danced plenty of ballet, tap and jazz solos as a schoolgirl as part of our school productions, but back then it was no big deal. Being young and innocent made it all amazing good fun. ‘Bring it on’. But when I joined The Royal Ballet School things changed a lot and nerves grew inside me. There, I was never the ‘chosen one’ and with my confidence hitting rock bottom at times, even stepping on stage was terrifying. Being part of a group was just enough for me to handle. I had little stage experience and wanted to avoid any spotlight as much as I could. Continue reading “Everything is Possible if You’ve Got Enough Nerve”→
You may all know from my post ‘A Chance to Return to The Hammond School’, that during May I spent a week in England at my childhood dance school, The Hammond, as I had been invited to take part in the school’s 100-year anniversary production of Sir Peter Wright’s ‘Giselle’. My years as a student there were so wonderful I couldn’t wait to return to where it all began. And of course, it was even more memorable than I could have imagined.
Arriving at the school, I had butterflies in my stomach. It was so strange to be back. How the school has changed in ten years I have been away, with its own in-house theatre and brand new studios replacing the portacabins I danced in. However, once my dance colleague, Flavio Salamanka and I found our way into the theatre and spotted my old ballet teacher, Miss Jane Elliott, working with her pupils, the familiar, friendly atmosphere I remembered was still ‘in the air’. Being introduced to her pupils as ‘my Harriet’, Jane had me feeling like I never left. Continue reading “My Unforgettable Debut as Giselle”→
I wanted to show my appreciation for this great person by dedicating this post to him and his work. Including a short interview about him, his past and his future. Flavio Salamanka, you will be missed.
Last Sunday we danced our final performance of the season which is always an exciting evening – another year completed, another year survived. However this year, not only was it a great one, it was also a very sad show for Karlsruhe StaatsBallett, as it was the last ever performance of our Kammertänzer Flavio Salamanka, a dancer who has been with the company since the beginning and who I have had the chance to dance many roles with and learn so much from.
We have had the pleasure of watching Flavio in numerous classical leads such as Swan Lake and Nutcracker to the more modern lead roles in A Midsummers Night’s Dream and Rusalka. Flavio has done it all. And he has done us proud. He has been such a big part of the company and many members of the public have followed his career over the 14 years he has danced here. Continue reading “Goodbye My Friend”→
Have you ever had one of those weeks where you think nothing exciting could possibly happen and then you’re catapulted into a string of days filled with mayhem and excitement? Well, a few weeks ago I found myself in a very unexpected situation which turned out to be one of my most treasured experiences as a professional dancer. Honestly, you never know what each week will bring.
Two weeks before our mid-season break my timetable was quite easy with not too many rehearsals. We had a performance of ‘Anne Frank’ on Sunday so I was preparing for my usual role as Anne’s Mother. However, the girl who was cast for Anne was off sick and as the days ticked by the question was being asked what will happen if she can’t dance.
It was never planned to change the casts in this ballet and therefore the second casts are not prepared. This is obviously quite a risky decision in case situations like this come about – a principal dancer unable to dance, with no one to jump in if required. Unfortunately, the show could not go on and this would be a disappointment not only for the ballet company but especially for the Theatre, and the audience due to attend.
So as Friday came with rehearsals planned, all of us, including the choreographer Reginaldo Oliviera, a dancer in the company, were still uncertain if we would perform. Trying to find a ‘plan B’ Reginaldo quietly approached me and asked if I would be able to learn the role of Anne for Sunday. Without hesitation, I said yes. Of course, I said yes. How amazing would it be to dance such an enjoyable yet meaningful role? The yes came from my heart before my head had time to registerthe insanely short time scaleI would have to learn a whole ballet, having not been previously cast for the role at all. That realisation didn’t come till later.Continue reading “Who Knows, This Week May Just Be Your Greatest One Yet”→
As a performer, my main goal in life is to shine. Well, that’s what I’m supposed to do. It is what we are all told or tell ourselves whenever we are about to enter the spotlights of the stage. Isn’t it? Be the brightest star.
But actually, it’s not always that easy.
Doubting thoughts like to creep up on me causing me to question what I am about to do, question what I have worked on for weeks. And even though I should know I am ready for my shining moment I don’t always feel ready. I question if I have rehearsed enough- did I spend enough time in the studio? Nerves build inside me throughout the day of the performance and I am sure I am not alone in experiencing pre-show anxieties. It is these feelings that can dull our light on stage and prevent that bubbly feeling of dancing. Continue reading “The Shining Light of the Stage”→
How is it already the second week of December? My advent calendar is slowly emptying, snow has already fallen, Christmas markets are buzzing like always, and as the days tick towards the 25th (24th here in Germany), the music of the much-loved ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ is filling theatres all over the world and Karlsruhe is no exception. Tis’ the season to be jolly and what better way to get in the festive mood than dressing up as a snowflake and jumping out of giant presents.
We have been dancing Youri Vámos’s ‘The Nutcracker – A Christmas Story’ since the first year I joined the company. The storyline combines the original Nutcracker with Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. It was actually the first premier I experienced back in 2010. I had just graduated from the Royal Ballet School, and after performing my last Grand Defile with the school and a night celebrating with fellow classmates for the last time, I flew to Karlsruhe to spend a week with the company while they started learning the ballet.
With the premiere of Peter Schaufuss‘s La Sylphide at the end of the week, things are really coming together and getting exciting. We had a few dress rehearsals last week and I had the unexpected chance to dance the Sylphide.
Originally being the third cast for the main role and just coming back from injury, I was not expecting to be dancing it for a while. But things changed when Peter asked how I felt about giving it a go in the next day’s run through. I was feeling good and knew the role pretty well so why not. With this ballet, there is surprisingly no pas de deux choreography so it is very easy to mix up the casts. Peter told us he wanted to change the dancers around so we all had the chance to dance and he also had the chance to see us in each role.
After the run, they were happy enough to give me another chance to rehearse it again the next day on stage. This rehearsal also went well and it was beautiful to dance with the live orchestra, which always brings another depth to the piece. I was then surprised last Monday morning when Peter set the cast for the first dress rehearsal and I would dance the Sylph. Continue reading “How a Fairy Gets Her Wings: An Unexpected Chance to Fly”→
As a dancer, there are so many perks to my job it is hard not to love it. I am able to do something I am so passionate about that also encourages me to constantly develop and learn. So considering all these positive aspects of a life as a dancer I wouldn’t want to choose the most important, but at the end of the day, the main goal in this profession is to put on a show. Everything I do, from training and rehearsing to eating well and taking care of my body, is all for that. I love many elements of my work but performing has to be the best part of the job.
Just the fact that after all your hard work there is an audience applauding for you. Who wouldn’t want that? It is truly a great feeling. And for me, it is not the only part that brings me the joy. With every performance I have done, and mainly when dancing principal roles, I marvel at the thought of having taken people to a different world, if only for a couple of hours. From their ordinary lives, they are transported into a place filled with beautiful music and beautiful movement; all the hardship or struggles of life can be forgotten about. And being on stage takes me to that same place with them. This is what makes it so much fun. I can take myself to another world where I really become the character I am dancing. Continue reading “Perform With Your Heart, Not Your Feet”→
Tonight will be this season’s first performance of our ballet creation ‘Anne Frank‘. And it will be a pleasure to bring it back to life. Since premiering last season, ‘Anne Frank’ has been a great success which means a lot to the company because it was created by one of our very own dancers, Reginaldo Oliveira. I have briefly mentioned this creation before and as I am sure you can tell from the name it is a piece with so much meaning and history.
Originally from Brazil, Oliveira moved to Germany to join Karlsruhe Staatsballett 10 years ago and discovered his talent for choreography while working within the company. He has had the chance to create many pieces with the dancers here but ‘Anne Frank’ was his first full-length ballet.
When I first heard we would be creating the story of this little girl’s diary from the Second World War I was very intrigued. I had a feeling Reginaldo would find a new interesting way to tell such a tragic tale. I have heard similar comments asked by the public, wondering how someone would portray such horrific history with ballet. But after experiencing the ‘holding onto the happiness while heading towards darkness’ opening scenes and the ‘hear a pin drop’ silence during the concentration camp second act, their questions were all answered. Continue reading “Anne Frank”→