Saturday, 29 August 2009
Cupcakes & Conversation with Alexandra Fern, Professional dancer, who will shortly be joining the UK’s newest professional ballet company, Ballet Theatre UK.
Photo : Patrick Baldwin
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
Getting up and doing a ballet class, a full day of rehearsals and always very loud music (that I can dance around to) and a BIG coffee!!
What are you looking forward to about joining Ballet Theatre UK ?
Touring the country and meeting new people. I am most looking forward to working in a professional company and being paid for your art!
Who would you most like to dance with ?
Good question!! I would like to dance with Steven McRae. I have seen him recently on stage and in a couple of interviews and I think he has a mentality like me (feisty) – so that would be fun and explosive. I would also love to dance with Jeremy Curnier, who is very close to me but I have never yet had the opportunity.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
After the initial preparation – sewing on the ribbons elastics etc, to be honest I put them on before a class, and do constant relevés from half toe to full pointe for a good 5 minutes. I then go to the barre and practice slow rises in parallel and in first position to mould the shoes to my feet. I find this the most helpful for me but I know I will learn many new traits in the new companies I explore!
Photo : Bill Cooper
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I took a four week apprenticeship with the Balbir Singh Dance Company where I learned Kathak, since then I have been keeping myself fit. I am currently living in my home town of Doncaster - so I use the local gym and I have been going back to my first dance school where I danced for 10 years. I’m getting a good relaxing holiday before I dive back into the dancing world, it seems once you’re in its hard to have a break!
You can ask six famous people to dinner - who would you invite ?
Eva Longoria, Cheryl Cole, former NBT dancer Jonathan Olivier, Jimmy Carr, Angelina Jolie and Steven McRae. I am sure it would be a fabulous evening – one which I am most looking forward to if it can be arranged?
What would surprise people about you ?
Just how competitive and determined I am! I have my goals and I can’t let myself not achieve them. I think it scares people sometimes – but it was the way I grew up dancing at my local dance school against others in competitions across England.
Who inspired you to dance ?
Well I got into dancing from just going with my best friend to an after school class at the age of 6. After a couple of months she quit and I loved it so I carried on. Later when I was introduced to the professional world I watched the Northern Ballet Theatre with my mum. It soon became my favorite ballet company and we went to every performance in Yorkshire. I soon developed my favorites and always looked out for them in performances; in particular they were Jonathan Olivier, Pippa Moore and Victoria Sibson.
How would someone else describe you ?
People say I’m bubbly and charming, I would say they would also call me very competitive...
What is your best piece of advice ?
Never give up – don’t listen to the people that put you down. If you want it enough and you work as hard as you can – your dream will come true.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
I would have to say the pas de trios from ‘Le Corsaire’. This is a very classical piece which tested my strengths as a dancer in terms of stamina, performance and mostly technique. I worked so hard on this challenge whilst touring with Ballet Central and I was rewarded with a couple of performances which were well worth all the hard work I had put in. I do have a close second which would be ‘Stars and Stripes’ choreographed by George Balanchine. I performed this solo for my graduation – which was a challenge in itself. I really enjoyed performing this after working on it alone in the studios at Central for months before the event.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?
Well...I fell over whilst performing with Ballet Central in Grantham. I was performing a piece called 'When No One Is Looking’ (choreographed by Phillip Aiden) which was based on mannequins in a shop window. They come to life and dance the whole night through, and return to the shop window when the sun rises. The dress I was wearing was a full sequin dress with high black heels. A few struts backwards and my heel got caught in the bottom of my dress and I ended up flat on my bum on stage in front of a full audience!! By this time the other 5 girls I was dancing with were in secret fits – we laughed it up backstage and the video the next day was side splitting! What was funniest though – is that my mum in the audience didn’t even realise!
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?
I’d love to create my own version of Darcey Bussell’s costume for ‘La Bayadere’ – but in deep purple. I think it is so beautifully classy and stunning. I’d love to perform in something like that! I would have lots of sequins and a gorgeous headpiece that sparkled in the theatre lights!
What are you most proud of ?
Getting into the Central School of Ballet and making it through three years – it was one of my dreams when I was younger!
Who would play you in the film of your life ?
I’d love it to be Eva Longoria. She’s beautiful, successful and she brought herself from nothing to someone I aspire to – I’d hope I could be that inspiration to someone one day.
What is your favourite quote ?
I have a few that keep me going:
‘Practice isn’t the thing that you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.’
‘If at first you don’t succeed try, try, and try again!’
‘Everything happens for a reason’
‘Reach for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars’
Do you have a "signature step" - one that you find easier than others ?
I’m a natural turner and was always told that, but I would say my ultimate signature step would be a grande jeté. I’m very lucky to have good flexibility and a high elevation so this makes this step my favorite. Everyone in class always smiled at me when we would head over to the corner and the teacher would start marking a grande allégro exercise – my face would be beaming all over, I just love it!
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
I am very creative in arts and crafts. I make cards for only my closest of friends and I guess they are the only ones who know how much I enjoy creating things. When I was younger I designed my own label and clothes – I’d love to do it for real someday.