Thursday, 19 August 2010


Hello everyone,

I'm really sorry for not being able to get around to all of your blogs lately and for not posting as often as normal.

Exciting times for Ballet News ! A lot of work has been going on backstage, and Ballet News now has a sparkling new home, new branding but best of all, the same content.

Please update your bookmarks & links to :

If you subscribed via RSS, please update your subscription; likewise if you subscribed by email - all of these options are available to you on the new site.

If you used Google Friend Connect here, on the new site you'll find options to subscribe in lots of ways, so please find one that suits you.

I look forward to seeing you all on my comfy new sofas with your feet up and an apple martini or two awaits you.....

Thank you for your wonderful support here on Blogger - long may it continue over in our new home !

Saturday, 14 August 2010


Tarzan Dan. I'm sure his name is no accident - it takes a certain amount of daring and dexterity to capture images of dancers in the studio, but to photograph them in inhospitable places, out of context and definately out of everyone's comfort zone, with the weather against you ?  Well, that takes an intrepid explorer with charm to spare.

Photographer Tarzan Dan is mainly known for his successful Canadian Radio and National television career, growing his passion for ballet photography over the last five years.  He has fused the needs of dancers wanting photographs with his own ideas, resulting in images that highlight the juxtaposition of the dancer out of her element. 

Or is she ?  Take a look at Principal dancer Bridgett Zehr, from the National Ballet of Canada, here in her swan costume, in an arguably life-like setting.

And then you move to the opposite extreme - here Angel Jutzi is miles out of her natural element and I'm sure you'll agree that the resulting image is equally arresting.

The dancers featured here are :

Bridgett Zehr , Principal Dancer, National Ballet of Canada
Angel Jutzi, MOVE: The Company, Vancouver
Caitlin Lockwood, Independent Artist

Bridgett Zehr

Bridgett Zehr

Bridgett Zehr

Angel Jutzi

Bridgett Zehr

Caitlin Lockwood

Bridgett Zehr

Angel Jutzi

Bridgett Zehr

Angel Jutzi

Angel Jutzi

Caitlin Lockwood

Bridgett Zehr

Angel Jutzi

All of Dan's image are for sale.
You can contact Dan through his website & through his facebook group @

The Australian Ballet - Two masterworks and a world premiere make for an exciting triple bill


Two generations of Australian ballet talent come together to present Edge of night for The Australian Ballet in 2010. In keeping with the company’s vision of caring for tradition while daring to be different, Edge of night is a triple bill where resident choreographer Stephen Baynes presents two critically acclaimed works alongside a world premiere for rising star Tim Harbour.

Adam Bull, Amber Scott & Andrew Killian in Molto Vivace
Photograph :  Jez Smith

Edge of night opens at the Sydney Opera House from 11 November.

Baynes and Harbour both trained with The Australian Ballet School, danced for many years with The Australian Ballet, and now create beautiful works for its artists to perform. For Artistic Director David McAllister, Baynes and Harbour come together in Edge of night to showcase the very best traits of Australian choreography. “It’s all about having a willingness to take risks, opting for a bold and playful approach, and ensuring there is an ongoing respect for classical ballet technique,” McAllister said.

When Baynes’ Molto Vivace premiered in 2003, Handel’s score was accompanied by the sound of dropping jaws. Boldly colourful, playful and laugh-out-loud funny, it showed the future of ballet was bright indeed.

Kirsty Martin & Robert Curran in At the edge of night
Photograph :  Jez Smith

In contrast, the achingly romantic At the edge of night shows a very different side to Baynes’ work. Set to seven preludes by Sergei Rachmaninov, the music, says Baynes “speaks of a nostalgic yearning, of idyllic dreams, of pride and passion.” And so does the ballet.

Harbour’s mainstage debut for The Australian Ballet, Halcyon, completes the bill. A dancer with The Australian Ballet for 13 years, Harbour has had a meteoric rise as a choreographer. After a succession of critically acclaimed works for the company’s Bodytorque series, and commissions for Australian companies, a chance spotting by Christopher Wheeldon saw him recruited to create a ballet for the New-York based Morphoses in late 2009.

Based on a Greek myth and set to a specially commissioned score from Gerard Brophy, Harbour’s Halcyon will be a much anticipated debut. The tradition of nurturing choreographic talent has continued under a number of Artistic Directors at The Australian Ballet. Both Baynes and Harbour are an inspiration to the next generation of Australian choreographers and prove the importance of nurturing talent to produce the major artists of tomorrow. Edge of night showcases just this.

Amber Scott in Molto Vivace
Photograph :  Jez Smith

The performances
Sydney 11 – 29 November
(19 performances)
Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House
with Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra
Melbourne 26 August – 4 September
(11 performances)
State Theatre, the Arts Centre
with Orchestra Victoria

Bookings  or 1300 369 741

Choreography Stephen Baynes
Music Sergei Rachmaninov
Set and costume design Michael Pearce
Lighting design Stephen Wickham

HALCYON (2010)
Choreography Tim Harbour
Music Gerard Brophy
Costume design Alexis George
Stage concept and lighting design Bluebottle

Choreography Stephen Baynes
Music George Frideric Handel
Costume design Anna French
Set design Richard Roberts

Tim Harbour's choreography supported by The Robert Southey Fund for Australian Choreography, endowed by The Sidney Myer Fund.

- ends -

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Cinderella, English National Ballet - reviewed

English National Ballet
Coliseum, London
11th August 2010

Cinderella. A broomstick and a glass slipper. The moral of the story ?  Ladies - be a bit more careless with your shoes and you never know who might turn up.

Michael Corder’s choreography begins with Cinderella alone at the fireside, missing her dead mother and cherishing a locket that belonged to her. Is it possible to clean, musically ? Daria Klimentová does, swopping dust motes with musical notes. The fireside scene looks dusty and faded brown with an almost comically over-sized door; I’ve never understood why the two Stepsisters want to spend so much time in the kitchen, but they do.

Daria Klimentová as Cinderella
Photography throughout zxDaveM

Corder’s genius is to play the Stepsisters as properly mean-spirited, squabbling attention-seeking brats which is much more in tune with modern families today. With an imperious bullying mother , none of them have any time for Cinderella and yet they taunt her continually with their invitation to the ball. Don’t they have any friends ? Probably not. Sarah Mcllroy and Adela Ramírez couldn’t have danced more superbly or in character if they’d tried. Ramírez has light, fast feet and whip-cracking changes of direction do not faze her; she is in her element here. 

Klimentová has silken commas for feet and in her Cinderella rags they mark her out as someone very special. The dress itself is a little too rustic and stiff; flowing faded elegance fits better in this once grand house – even if the silk has been attacked by a cheese cutter.

Daria Klimentová with her Stepmother Jane Haworth (middle) and two Stepsisters Sarah Mcllroy (left) and Adela Ramírez (right)

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, Begoña Cao, has beautiful lines hampered by a shiny, scrappy costume better suited to the Cirque du soleil acrobats, and the same goes for all the Season costumes.  Their headdresses firmly belong in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cao will dance Cinderella in today’s matinee (with the fabulous Esteban Berlanga as her Prince) and I’d recommend that you see them if you can. Berlanga danced one of the Prince’s Companions, alongside James Forbat, and both were exemplary; matching pace and height with clever partnering. Because they are both in dazzling white, with An Officer and a Gentleman feel about them, they both out-dazzle the Prince who finds himself in cream. A dash of gold suits Vadim Muntagirov but he hasn’t much to do – this is Cinderella’s night.

Cinderella's Stepsisters Adela Ramirez and Sarah Mcllroy vamp it up

As Cao appears through the fog on stage, through the huge kitchen door, Klimentová can only sense her presence, and together they dance with the magic. When the Fairy Godmother is finally revealed to her, Klimentová watches as the Seasons and their Cavaliers dance for her. Aside from the distracting costumes I think it’s a mistake to give the Fairy Seasons a Cavalier; it clutters up their lines even more and the staccato rhythm danced by most of them did nothing to imbue the choreography with expressions of the weather and it confused the audience who often had no idea whether they had stopped or simply paused. Fairy Autumn (Shiori Kase and Daniel Kraus) has the most emphatic ending, and Jenna Lee had a notable debut as Fairy Winter.

Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother - Begoña Cao

This scene is also missing a transformation, and it’s not the only one. Once the Stars, with their beautiful tutus, have arrived – and Ruth Brill really has arrived – Cinderella is whisked away by coach at such speed that even the Seasons had trouble seeing the way over her billowing veil. And where is the pumpkin ?  There must be a pumpkin.

Shiori Kase as The Autumn Fairy and her Cavalier Daniel Kraus

The Act 11 ball scenes are some of the best of the evening; delicately sparkling deep blue dresses for the ladies against a rich blue cloth and the obligatory sparkly chandeliers. This is our first glimpse of Muntagirov since his successful Swan Lake debut in June, and he looks every inch this Prince. He is less smiley this time, more earnest and his partnering has a smoothness topped with a new, confident flourish.

The Spring Fairy, Anjuli Hudson and her Cavalier Nathan Young

Juan Rodriguez, as The Dancing Master, takes the place of the Jester seen in other productions, and I found that I didn’t miss the Jester’s high jinks. The interactions between the Stepsisters and their teacher were more down to earth & held my attention far more; they were more human and believable in a story about faeries and stars. It's hard enough trying to believe that anyone really would be that careless with a shoe without having to suspend belief altogether with pantomime dames and Harlequins.

The Stepsisters - Adela Ramirez (in orange) and Sarah Mcllory (in red) with The Dancing Master Juan Rodriguez

The Stepsisters have gaudy costumes in orange and red with bows in all the wrong places but boy do they make the most of the choreography here to the extent that you can forgive a loud costume. They spend their time trying to impress anyone and everyone, and the Prince has quite a task keeping away from their flailing limbs and grasping claws.

Begoña Cao as the Fairy Godmother and the four Season Cavaliers - Nathan Young, Fabian Reimair, Daniel Kraus and Zhanat Atymtayev

Once Klimentová is wearing a tutu she instantly becomes a ballerina and in this scene Cinderella needs to look, initially at least, awe-struck and mesmerised by the grandeur and the Prince. From her entrance borne aloft, Klimentová dances as though she belongs there and never had a single sleepless night wondering whether her Prince would ever arrive. And her dancing ! Her beautiful arms phrase the music and those turning silken commas work their magic so that Muntagirov is helplessly under their spell, as are we. Together they weave their magic in the Pas de deux to the softly tinkling Prokofiev score, with assured partnering for the most part and lovely variations.

But the clock is relentlessly ticking and Cinderella has forgotten the golden rule. As she flees, there is no big reveal back into her rags, and the dropped shoe has in fact already been carefully placed on the step.

Vadim Muntagirov as The Prince

Act 111 is overlong – the whole ballet could be cut by 40 minutes and no-one would mind – and the Prince embarks on a worldwide search for his love. The ballroom couples reappear, masked this time –how is that going to help the search?

Vadim Muntagirov as the Prince with Ruth Brill as one of the Stars behind

Adela Ramírez returns as the Spanish Princess and Sarah Mcllroy as the Egyptian Princess and along with Stina Quagebeur as the Oriental Princess they confuse the Prince until he finally wakes up. All are outdone by Chantel Roulston and Nicola Henshall as the Handmaidens in wispy costumes with sharp footwork and flowing port de bras.

Jenna Lee debuts as The Winter Fairy with her Cavalier Zhanat Atymtayev

Meanwhile, Cinderella is back at the kitchen fireside, dreaming of her night at the ball. I didn’t get any sense here of her gradually remembering the events unfold, and her other slipper is right by the fireside staring her in the face so there is no accidental discovery of it either.

Daria Klimentová

When the Prince arrives to tempt the Stepsisters to try on his half of the pair of slippers, hardly requiring the slightest of effort on his part, they have a high old time on the stools but thankfully it’s less pantomime than it would had they been en travesti.

Vadim Muntagirov as The Prince and Daria Klimentová as Cinderella

Cinderella dances beseechingly around the Prince but she is in the wrong clothes and he doesn’t notice her, until eventually he does spot her standing next to her Father and asks her to try the slipper. The resulting Happy Ever After is nicely done, with the Fairy Godmother, the Stars & the Seasons finally bidding the moon farewell, heralding the beginning of a new dawn.

The Fairy Godmother - Begoña Cao and the Stars

Cinderella is in rep until Sunday 15th August with their 60th Birthday performance on Saturday 14th August when you too can go to the ball & enjoy a party after the show with the company dancers and staff (if you've got deep pockets or know someone who has).

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Cupcakes & Conversation with Sophie Fletcher, Principal, Melbourne Ballet Company

cupcakes courtesy of the Primrose Bakery, supporters of BALLET NEWS

Cupcakes & Conversation with Sophie Fletcher, Principal, Melbourne Ballet Company (this month, Sophie moves to The National Theatre in Prague).

Sophie Fletcher
Photograph : Jon Green

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
Funnily enough, I have always found Monday’s the best day of the week - I know it's a bit strange!! But I guess when you love your job it's not hard to get motivated.

What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?
Well I don't know what roles I will be performing as yet but I am moving from Perth, Australia to Prague to dance with The National Theatre in August so I am very much looking forward to a new environment, a new culture and new repertoire to dance.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
In a dream world I would love to dance with Baryshnikov in Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de deux! If you asked me about Australians I would love to dance with the master of all partners I have witnessed - Robert Curran, and possibly in something more modern like Stanton Welch's Divergence. My imagination is running away..

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
For me it would be a theatre (although I am sure there are some amazing amphitheatres in Europe where I would love to perform). Lincoln Centre in New York would be a dream come true.

Sophie rehearses Bianca in Taming of the Shrew
Photograph : Sergey Pevnev

How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I wear Bloch pointe shoes which have been made to my specifications so I don't really need to do too much to them. But I do sew ribbons on to them which have elastic for a healthier demi plie and I stand on the box to make it slimmer from side-on. Then I pull the inner sole off the back down to about half way or where my arch needs the support and then I am ready for class. If I want the shoes for performance I will normally wear them for about three days in the studio, then do the same with another few pairs so I can alternate them and none get too soft.

What is your daily routine at the moment ?
We have just been in performance season for Don Quixote so during the week I would go to Bikram yoga at 9:30am and then we would start a 1 1/4hr ballet class at 12pm followed by notes and rehearsal from the show the night before. Our break is around 3pm in which I normally have something to eat, do any chores that I need to and sometimes go for coffee or relax with a DVD. I head to the theatre about 5:30pm to start my hair and make-up and re-warm up for the show (there is a company barre at 6:30pm) then I set my quick change costumes and get down on stage where you will most likely find me balancing - a trick I found years ago to calm my nerves and help me focus!

You can ask six famous people to dinner - who would you invite ?
This is a tough question as there are so many people I would love to invite...but here goes: Balanchine, Peggy Guggenheim, Vivienne Westwood, D.B.C Pierre, Pina Bausch and Arvo Pärt.

Alejandro Cerrudo's Lickety-Split
Photograph :  Jon Green

What would surprise people about you ?
??? Maybe that there is a bronze statue of me in "attitude" in Sydney!

Who inspired you to dance ?
It is a funny/interesting story that I actually started dancing because I broke my leg!! (that might surprise people about me too!!) I was very young and my doctor recommended ballet to strengthen my leg!

I have been inspired by many amazing dancers I have watched though. Notably Alessandra Ferri and Ashley Bouder. Travelling and being able to watch these and many amazing dancers live and do class with them has been the most wonderful inspiration for me.

What is your best piece of advice ?
Everything happens for a reason!

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I get to the theatre about two hrs before curtain-up (it depends on the show as some need more time for hair etc). I usually start by doing my hair and then my make-up, then there is always someone else who needs hair help;) I then either do my own warm-up or company barre depending on the repertoire and what my body needs that night. Next is time for costume and pointe shoes; by the 15 minute call I am on stage balancing, setting props, some last minute proprioception exercises and practicing anything particularly tricky in the choreography or any partnering things. By the time all that is done it's time to start! [Ed note : proprioception - from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own" and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of your own body].

rehearsal of Lickety-Split

Which role has tested you the most & how ?
The role I played in a very contemporary piece we danced called It is tested me physically as at the beginning it was so far from my natural movement style that it was a real challenge to get my body to move the way the choreographer wanted. I got there eventually and it was easier to achieve once I had the costume and wig. Bianca in Taming of the Shrew was also a role I loved getting my teeth into and from which I learned a lot.

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
Something with no restrictions, that is very flattering! Something with as few layers as possible. The costumes I have most loved to wear are little silk chiffon dresses either loose and over a leotard so you just see a silhouette of the body or with a corset top and flowy skirt. Simple is generally best and the ability to move without restriction makes performing that much more enjoyable for a dancer. I have always had an interest in costume design and you will often hear me say "I wish this was a bit more like that, or this line should be here, if we just...."!

What do you look for in a dance partner ?
Musicality, movement quality and a little bit of strength;)

What is your favourite quote ?
"The object of art is to give life a shape." William Shakespeare

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?
Not so much a step but balancing on pointe in pretty much any position has always come fairly naturally to me (Rose Adage - one day). [Ed note : the opening chords from the Rose Adage (Aurora’s fiendish balances from The Sleeping Beauty) usually strike fear into the heart of any ballerina – even long after they’ve retired. Sophie is showing commendable fearlessness here !]

Sophie rehearses Bianca in Taming of the Shrew
Photograph : Sergey Pevnev

A phrase I use far too often is ... ?
OK, yes!

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
One that springs to mind straight away was my first performance with The Australian Ballet in Balanchine's Serenade. It is such a beautiful ballet and the opening choreography, with the light.. It will always be very special to me. Another was the opening night of our Quarry season here in Perth last year where I danced the lead Pas de deux with Yann Laine in Alejandro Cerrudo's Lickety-Split. This is my favourite piece to dance to date and to perform it outside under the stars with the wind in my hair and with a partner who I adore was amazing!!

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
Secret skill...? I can do pointe on a wobble board...

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
In a year from now I will have been with my new company for under a year so it is hard to predict but I would love to be performing in works which I love and being able to tour and dance around as many cities in Europe as possible.

Monday, 2 August 2010


Adam Blyde, Claire Robertson and Company in Frederick Ashton’s Scènes de Ballet
Photograph by Andrew Ross.

From Scottish Ballet Monday 2 August 2010

Sponsored by Adam & Company

THEATRE ROYAL, GLASGOW, Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 September 2010
Tickets from £12 - £20*
Box office: 0844 871 7647

Thursday 23 to Saturday 25 September 2010
Tickets from £10 - £20*
Box office: 0131 529 6000

Friday 1 to Saturday 2 October
Tickets from £12.50 - £22.50*
Box office: 01224 641122

Friday 8 to Saturday 9 October
Tickets from £10 - £19.50*
Box office: 01463 234 234

*Discounts available at each of the above locations – please contact the box office at the relevant theatre.
Booking fees apply when booking over the phone.

Eve Mutso and Erik Cavallari in Ashley Page’s Fearful Symmetries
Photograph by Andrew Ross

SCENES DE BALLET: Choreography Frederick Ashton / Music Igor Stravinsky
NEW WORK Choreography Val Caniparoli / Music by Elena Kats-Chernin
FEARFUL SYMMETRIES Choreography Ashley Page / Music John Adams

geometry: (noun) the branch of mathematics concerned with points, lines, curves and surfaces
grace: (noun) elegance and beauty of movement, form or expression
Collins English Language Dictionary
This autumn Scottish Ballet presents Geometry and Grace - the perfect formula of pure dance inspired by symmetry, space and geometric shapes, performed with power and precision by the dancers of Scotland’s award winning national dance Company. Sponsored by private bank Adam & Company and featuring the world premiere of a brand new work, the programme will tour to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen throughout September and October.

Claire Robertson and Adam Blyde in Frederick Ashton’s Scènes de Ballet
Photograph by Merlin Hendy. (Autumn Season)

From revered choreographer Frederick Ashton comes Scènes de Ballet. Created in 1947, post World War II and a time considered by the choreographer as one of new confidence and ambition, Ashton broke free from the favoured story-telling ballets of his contemporaries and instead chose geometry as his inspiration.  Whilst choreographing, he famously brought volumes of Euclid to rehearsals, moving his dancers in intricate patterns while responding to the tricky rhythms and changing tempos of the Stravinsky score of the same name.

“I, who at school could never get on with algebra or geometry, suddenly became fascinated with geometrical figures, and I used a lot of theorems as ground patterns for Scènes de Ballet”, he told the dance historian David Vaughan. “I used to drive the girls mad trying to solve these theorems, moving them from one position to another. I also wanted to do a ballet that could be seen from any angle - anywhere could be front, so to speak. So I did these geometric figures that are now always facing front - if you saw Scènes de Ballet from the wings you would get a very different but equally good picture.”

This purely classical ballet of perfect patterns is as elegant and chic as it is astute, and was originally designed by André Beaurepaire, a Frenchman who was heavily influenced by Picasso.  Ashton adapted the original designs to include a twist of the baroque and the final work sees the ballerinas in bodices laced with geometric patterns and tutus of lemon and blue, with double-strand pearls and sharp black berets to chic yet dramatic visual effect.
In a world premiere, San Francisco Ballet choreographer Val Caniparoli unveils his brand new work created exclusively on Scottish Ballet. Featuring fluid, lustrous fabrics and designs from Sandra Woodall, Caniparoli sets the dancers in glorious soaring patterns of flight to two chamber scores by Uzbekistani composer Elena Kats-Chernin.

Sophie Martin and Erik Cavallari in Ashley Page’s Fearful Symmetries
Photograph by Andrew Ross

Completing the programme in a pattern of evolving symmetries and pulsating groups is Artistic Director Ashley Page’s Olivier Award-winning Fearful Symmetries. A visually striking piece with designs taking cues from the geometrical designs of Mark Rothko and the New York abstract expressionists, Fearful Symmetries features a moving block of coloured light and a hanging curved wall peppered with pinpricks created by long term collaborator and designer Antony McDonald to bathe the stage in starlight.

“I first created this piece on the Royal Ballet in 1994 and it really does make tough demands on the dancers with its spirit and speed,” explains Page. “I chose to set it to the John Adams score of the same name as to me it evokes a range of diverse and dynamic interpretation - at once the frenzy of a bustling American city as well as the journey along those big open landscapes of the Arizona deserts.”

Geometry and Grace is sponsored by Adam & Company. Scottish Ballet Chief Executive / Executive Producer Cindy Sughrue said: “As Scotland’s national dance company, we are continually looking for ways to present our artform in as an engaging and inspirational way as possible - through the work of our Education programme as well as the performances themselves. While Geometry and Grace brings together work of international standard and technique, it also allows us to look at ballet from a new angle (so to speak!). We are grateful for the continued support of tour sponsor Adam & Company and look forward to working with them to further develop our relationship.”

David Cathie, Managing Director of Adam & Company, commented: “Adam is thrilled to be supporting Scottish Ballet's autumn tour of Geometry and Grace. As with all of our sponsorships that have charitable status, we feel that it is important to continue our support through such challenging economic times so that we can help preserve this wonderful art for future generations."

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Ballerina on the Boat

Today I want to share with you two outstandingly brilliant short films.  In two parts, Ballerina on the Boat is exquisitely animated and I guarantee you will be hooked within minutes. It's funny, accurate, serious and light-hearted all at the same time.  And the animation........

Well, you need to see it for yourselves !

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

Enjoy !

Friday, 30 July 2010

Cupcakes & Conversation with Melissa Hough, Soloist, Houston Ballet

Cupcakes & Conversation with Melissa Hough, Soloist, Houston Ballet

What prompted your move to Houston Ballet ?
I have been with Boston Ballet for seven years and I've been feeling the need to change for quite some time. I've always liked Boston Ballet's size and Houston Ballet has about the same number of dancers. I'm very interested in improving my acting skills and Houston does a lot of work that involve major theatrical skills. I'm hoping the company will push me harder to reach my goal. They also have amazing facilities for dance. The company is moving to a new (approximately 53 million dollar) building in the downtown area in the spring of 2011 and the theatre is fantastic.

Melissa as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty
photograph :  Rosalie O'Connor

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
I've always enjoyed the first day after a break. My body tends to hurt much less and I feel a bit fresher, generally.

Melissa as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty
photograph : Rosalie O'Connor

What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?
I attempt to begin each season with reasonable expectations, regarding casting. I don't find out what I'm going to dance until the season begins, so it's difficult to say what I'm looking forward to. I will say that I am looking forward to throwing myself into more acting roles, small or large :).

How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I'm a bit lazy when it comes to preparing my shoes. At the moment, I jet glue the tips and a little up the sides of the shank (on the inside) before anything. Then I hammer the vamp to soften the glue in order to have flexibility to roll through the foot and I hammer the shank a little at the ball of the foot to help the shoe to bend with my short toes. I also take some of the nails out of the shank, so they're not digging into my foot at an inopportune moment.

Petit Mort
Photograph :  Angela Sterling

What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I'm in Spain touring with Boston Ballet right now, so I don't have a routine. Usually my routine in the morning must include coffee. I can make everything else work after that.

Who inspired you to dance ?
I think perhaps music and movement itself have inspired me to dance. Throughout my life I had teachers I looked up to and wanted to emulate, but in the end my inspiration doesn't come from a person.

Melissa as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty
Photograph : Rosalie O'Connor

What is your best piece of advice ?
Never stop discovering new things about what you might contribute to the art and never limit yourself mentally as to what you can and can't do.

Melissa as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty
Photograph :  Rosalie O'Connor

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I make sure I eat well and early enough before curtain. I take a shower just to warm up my body and put my warm ups on immediately after the shower. Then, I begin to work on my hair, then part of my makeup. I usually give myself a barre, finish after fondus and then head back up to the dressing room to finish my makeup and get dressed. I don't have anything that I MUST do before the show. It always varies a lot depending on what the role is I'm about to dance, but generally I do these things prior to a performance.

Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Every time I dance a major role it is a test, I guess. The test is with myself though. It's to see if all the work in the studio has paid off enough for me to enjoy the performance and be in the moment.

What do you look for in a dance partner ?
Coordination, musicality, and an ability to let go and be in the moment on stage.

Aurora pricks her finger in The Sleeping Beauty
Photograph :  Sabi Varga

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?
Circular movements?

A phrase I use far too often is ... ?
Oh my God, you're killing me (in a sarcastic tone, always).

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
Define moment :).

Photograph :  Angela Sterling

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
If I were to tell, it wouldn't be a secret.

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now and what do you hope to achieve with your new company ?
I hope to be a little more at peace with the work I am a part of. Personally, I feel fulfilled at the end of a season if I know I've improved the level of my dancing and artistry.