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.
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❞
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 Lincolnteaching 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.
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”→
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.
‘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❞
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.
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”→
Terry Hyde first contacted me after noticing my Twitter page and all my posts on dance and being a professional ballerina. He then told me about his past career in dance and what he does now to support dancers and their mental health.
He asked if I would like to be a part of his blog and write a guest article sharing some of my experiences in the dance world up until now and particularly a difficult time I went through when it was hard to keep going.
It didn’t take me long to decide which issue I would write about, especially as Terry mentioned aiming the thoughts to dance students, and now we have finally got the article up and running. I talk about losing all my confidence at school and finding happiness in other places outside of dance. Here is a link to the article.
”My weight was a problem for the ballet school but not for me”
Harriet Mills, Principal with Staatdballet Karlsruhe, talks about how she survived the toxic regime and weight issues during her ballet training
Whilst you’re there have a read and look around on Terry’s website. The issues he is confronting are very difficult and dancers, like everyone, need as much support throughout their schooling, careers and post-careers and I thank Terry for letting me be a part of it.
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”→
My summer holiday is never complete without some dancing, and over the past two days, I have had the pleasure of spreading and sharing the dancing joy with the students of Moorland Ballet Academy Summer School.
Moorland is a privet school in Lancashire with an Elite Football Program and a Classical Ballet Academy. The ballet academy was founded by two wonderful past teachers of mine Lynsey and Simon Kidd, who both taught and guided me during my student years. Knowing personally what good teachers they are, I was honored to hear from them and be invited to join them during the summer course.
Even though I only spent two days at the school, I truly enjoyed teaching the summer students – a mixture of full-time students at the school and young dancers from outside, some coming from as far as Japan, and already saw improvement in that short space of time. I had the pleasure of teaching a great bunch of 11-13 year olds and an older group of 14-18 year olds. Both classes worked so hard for me so thank you for that girls and boys.
I am sure all of the above come to mind, and it is true, we ballerinas can be all those things, (I try to convince myself I am a princess every day) but in this post, I want to focus on the ballerina and her flexibility.
Flexibility is a very useful and often needed attribute of a dancer but I would not say it is always the most important. Yes, some days, if not all, I would give my right arm to be more flexible but as I have gotten older and (hopefully) wiser, not only have I decided my right arm is a part of me I would not want to lose, I have also come to realise I can be ok the way I am.
Over the last few weeks my days have been filled with preparations for something I am very honoured to be working towards and can’t believe it has arrived so quickly.
It was back in February when I got an email from an unforgettable teacher I had while training at The Hammond School, the wonderful Mrs Elliott. This delight of a women being someone who took me through my final years at the school,before transferring to the Royal Ballet School, and gave me so much joy in the studio as a student asked if I would return to the school for their 100 Year Anniversary performances to dance the lead role in Peter Wright’s ‘Giselle’.
Being a role I have not yet had the opportunity to dance I was very excited to confirm with my directer, Birgit Keil that it would be possible for me to travel to England in May and take part in the production. It was a little concerning that I would have to learn the whole ballet on top of the usual work schedule, as it would be something I would do in my free time, but seeing as I was informed early enough I was sure I would manage the work load.