Sunday, 20 September 2009
Cupcakes & Conversation with Elsa Godard, Artist, The Royal Ballet
Photo : Anais Godard
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
I feel really lucky to do my job. It's always fascinating to learn and discover something every day, to give the most of ourselves. And the best thing is to know that we can enjoy it on stage and hopefully make people in the audience dream as well...
Who would you most like to dance with ?
There are so many great artists in the "ballet world". I find it difficult to pick one person out of all the wonderful dancers - I really appreciate what they do. I think the most important thing is that there is a real connection between the two partners. If something true is shared between the two of them, then it should be a moment to enjoy.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
First, I darn the end of the shoes and cut the satin to make it less slippery. I sew the ribbons and elastics, and take off the nail on the "heel part" of the shoe. Then I slice off a bit of the bottom part of the sole with a Stanley knife to make the shoe more stable. I usually need to do this operation several times a week, so I generally sew a couple of them in a row, so that if one of them wears out.... a few others are already waiting to be worn!
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
At the moment, it's only the beginning of the season. The day starts with a ballet class at 10.30am, followed by rehearsals in the afternoon which can go on until 6.30pm. It gets busier once the shows start. Rehearsals then go on to 5.30, then we have a 2 hour break in which we get some dinner and prepare ourselves for the show about to start!
You can ask six famous people to dinner - who would you invite ?
There are so many people I find really interesting. Johnny Depp, Anthony Hopkins, Mr Baryshnikov, and Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and Alfred Hitchcock.
Photo: Johan Persson
What would surprise people about you ?
People usually say I'm a quiet person, but I laugh louder than one would think!
Who inspired you to dance ?
As a child, I loved watching Fred Astaire's movies. This was a "dance and music" dimension I really enjoyed. Then my mum and sister registered me into a small ballet school, and "ballet" quickly became a real passion. I got to know my great teacher Dominique Khalfouni... She taught me so much, as much technically as emotionally.
How would someone else describe you ?
I feel I need to ask my friends and family to answer this question... according to them, I'm shy but spontaneous, honest, and really stubborn!
What is your best piece of advice ?
Never give up, work hard, stay authentic, and hang on tightly to your dreams...
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
As a corp de ballet, all the big productions such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty & La Bayadere are real challenges stamina wise, and also to stay coordinated and form a harmonious whole with all the other girls in the corp. But if I had to pick one ballet, I would say Serenade by George Balanchine. This is a half hour ballet, which doesn't really stop, and this makes it quite hard to catch your breath ... but the music is so outstanding that it makes you forget the difficulty of the steps and lets you fully enjoy the moment. It taught me a lot about how to deal with difficulty and just enjoy every minute of the show... a lesson that helps me with any other productions now.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?
It was actually in a dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker. We were doing Snowflakes, and I lost my wig on stage! I ended up with my Snowflake dress, a wig in my hand and my stocking top on my head! (it’s a bald cap worn underneath a wig to hide traces of real hair). What a look! I can now laugh about it, but it was not actually as funny at the time.... it was one of the first times I danced on that great stage!
Photo : Johan Persson
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?
I would create a really floaty dress, preferably a light pink or even white... A bit of a Juliet (from Romeo & Juliet) type of dress.
What are you most proud of ?
Who would play you in the film of your life ?
I would love to say Audrey Hepburn if she was still alive...
What is your favourite quote ?
Rise above the storm, and you will find the sunshine.