Sunday, 3 January 2010

Tracy Jones interviewed for "Cupcakes & conversation with..."

Cupcakes & conversation with Tracy Jones, Corp de Ballet, Corella Ballet, Spain

Tracy Jones in the dressing room

How have you benefited from the training at The Royal Ballet School ?
Having done most of my training with the RBS I feel as if I owe a lot to them as to how I have turned out today, not just as a dancer but as a person also. The pure classical style that they teach there along with the self-discipline which you learn to work with are wonderful attributes for when you join a professional company. I also feel that the technique I learned there has given me a great base to develop into whichever style a director or choreographer would like. In my graduate year there, I was lucky enough to have been given many wonderful opportunities to perform with The Royal Ballet, both at the Royal Opera House and on their International tour, as well as many performances and choreography opportunities within the RBS and I feel that these experiences really prepared me to join a professional company.

What motivates you at 8 am on a Monday morning ?
Well, unfortunately I'm not the greatest morning person, so getting up on Monday mornings is definitely a challenge for me, but once I've had a cup of coffee and a shower to wake me up, I find it a lot easier to get going. Sometimes we have Mondays off here so then I am easily motivated to go and explore Madrid and do some shopping. If it’s a working day, I look forward to hopefully fulfilling goals that I have set for myself in class and rehearsals and doing better than I did the week before.

Tracy Jones & Matthew Golding rehearsing 'Epimitheus'
Photo by Fernando Bufala

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
That's a tough one. I think that depending what I was to dance would then determine who I would like to dance with, but I think that the dream role for me would have to be Macmillan's Manon with Jonathan Cope.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
I'm not sure exactly where, but I absolutely adore dancing in outdoor theatres, so it would have to be somewhere outdoors with a beautiful setting that was somewhat significant to whatever it is that I would be dancing. I would also love to dance back home in Ireland for my family as they are so supportive of what I do, I feel that the best way that I could repay them would be by dancing for them.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
Firstly I cut the backs so that they are 3/4 length. I then darn an outer ring on the tip of the shoe, followed by sewing elastics and ribbons. I break them in over a few classes and bang them against concrete so as to eliminate the sound. After all of that, I use shellac or Jet glue to harden the ends before using them for a show.

During your year with English National Ballet, what memories did you take away from the experience ?
I have taken with me many great memories from my time at ENB. I learned a lot about how a touring company works and having joined there as a brand new member of the corps I learned quickly to always be ready to jump into whatever spot needs filling. I was also lucky enough to have been with the company when they premiered The Snow Queen by Michael Corder, which was my first experience of working on a new full length ballet with a choreographer. The time I was there, the company also toured to China, which was wonderful as I love to travel, but I would have to say that my fondest memories would have to be of the friendships I made there and the Christmas season at the Coliseum Theatre in London.

Photo by Johan Persson

What are you looking forward to dancing this season with Corella Ballet in Spain ?
This season opened with 2 new ballets which is always exciting to be part of and very rewarding once the final product is put on stage. We also opened with a wonderful ballet by Jerome Robbins called 'Fancy Free' which I dance the 'third girl' in, so I was very much looking forward to that. We have a tour to the New York City Centre coming up in March which I am very excited about and I’m also really looking forward to doing a new version of Swan Lake after the New Year.

What is your daily routine at the moment ?
At the moment we are on and off tour quite a lot, so it depends really, but if we are at home, our daily routine starts with class at 10.30am till 12 and then rehearsals till 7pm, although most of the time you won’t be involved in all the rehearsals so often you have an hour or so break in between. When we are on tour, we start slightly later with class on stage, followed by any rehearsals which the staff feel necessary, then a break to get ready for the show, followed by the show.

What is the ballet scene like in Spain ?
The ballet scene in Spain is very different to how it is in other countries. Although they have a great sense of culture here and some beautiful theatres, I don't think that ballet has as much a tradition here as it has in other places. Corella Ballet is in fact the only classical ballet company at the moment in Spain, but there are some incredible Spanish dancers all over the world and now with their own Company, I hope that ballet out here will soon have the appreciation it deserves.

You can ask six famous people to dinner — who would you invite ?
Ninette De Valois, Audrey Hepburn, Neil Armstrong, Walt Disney, Anna Wintour and Nicole Kidman.

What would surprise people about you ?
That I am a disaster in the kitchen.

Who inspired you to dance ?
Darcey Bussell was a huge influence for me growing up, especially as she too had been through White Lodge but a lot of my inspiration and willpower came from my family, knowing that they were behind and supporting whatever I did made me want to work even harder.

What is your best piece of advice ?
Never take life too seriously but, it’s short, so make the most of what ever opportunities it throws at you.

Tracy Jones & Fernando Bufala in 'In The Upper Room'
Photo by Rosalie 0'Connor

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
Once rehearsals finish I normally pop out to grab a quick coffee and a snack. I then use the time before to take a power nap if I need one, or just to chill out with some music and the girls in the dressing room. I then get ready with hair and make-up, make sure my costume and shoes are prepared, and head down to the stage to do a 20 minute barre before curtain up.

Which role has tested you the most & how ?
When I first joined Corella Ballet I was cast to dance in Twyla Tharp's 'In the Upper Room', a ballet with a very different style to what I had been used to dancing, but the experience was great and once I had a better knowledge of the movement I was really able to enjoy each performance more. The company also recently added Christopher Wheeldon's ballet 'VIII' to its repertoire, which is a ballet based on Henry VIII and his relationship with Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, and I have been very privileged to learn the part of Catherine of Aragon. It is a part which requires a lot of emotion and I look forward to the challenge of seeing what I can bring to the role.

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
It would have to be something similar to the dress normally worn for Tchaikovsky pas de deux or Juliet (from Romeo & Juliet). A light long flowing skirt with an elaborate embroidered bodice might be nice.

What is your favourite quote ?
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can be great". Mark Twain

What do you look for in a dance partner ?
Obviously it is important to have a strong partner with charisma and suitability, but the most important thing for me is trust and a good relationship both on and off stage.

A phrase I use far too often is ... ?
I have got into a habit of starting a lot of sentences with the phrase.. " I mean really, ..... "

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
I actually have two of these. The first was in 1999 when I was in my first year at White Lodge. It was the re-opening of the Royal Opera House and it was my first experience of being on such a wonderful stage with so many talented and renowned dancers. We literally had to just stand there while the orchestra played the end score from Stravinsky's 'The Firebird', but it was such an incredible feeling.

My second moment would have to have been the night that Corella Ballet premiered as a company with Makarova's La Bayadere at the Royal Theatre in Madrid. Having known how much work everyone put into getting the company up and running, it was incredible to receive a standing ovation by the public and to be part of hopefully what will go down in history as the first performance done by Spain's own classical ballet company.

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
I would like to imagine that this time next year I will have improved in my technique and grown as an artist and hopefully be ready to challenge myself with new goals and repertoire.


  1. wonderful interview, thank you, and the best of everything for Tracy in 2010, Sandi

  2. Great interview Tracy
    We are proud of you

    Your Auntie Cathy and cousins

  3. Elise,
    Tracy is as gorgeous inside and out! She has such an amazing pointe!
    I love your interviews and getting a sneak into the life of a dancer and artist!

  4. Hi Elise,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. In answer to your question there is no need to provide an email address if you don't want to - it is just easier to reply to comments this way.

    Best wishes,


  5. CelticWoman - you too !

    anon - thank you !

    pve design - you are too kind, but thank you. I'm sure Tracy will love your compliments too

    Sue - hello - I had never come across that request before so was puzzled that's all !

  6. never i will never a bandon the ballet . sorry i have not posted any comments in a while . How is the daughter doing ? good I hope . I love the art of dance are you kidding me No way ever would i abandon the ballet .

  7. Hi Elise, What a lovely, in depth interview. This helps to bring Tracy to life as a person. It is beautifully constructed and shows the knowledge that you have and the gift of sharing it with us all.

    On another little note - sorry to be changing the subject - what are your thoughts on the BBC and their new programme 'So you think you can dance?' Perhaps I am a little harsh but I really wish they hadn't thought this particular one up. It's rather like people thinking that a few short weeks of singing can make them into an opera star. Sadly, the clumsy are made to dream the kind of dreams we all dream as children but only few have the ability to bring the dream to life and the rest of us sigh and learn to appreciate what these few special talented people can do. Ah well!

    Happy New Year to you Elise - let us hope that 2010 will be a magnificent one for us all.

  8. phonelady - great to hear from you again ! Hope you are feeling much better

  9. Kloggers/Polly - hello. Well, you raise an interesting subject ! Pure classical ballet has largely escaped the clutches of reality tv because, as you say, it isn't possible to pick up the level of skill required to be even moderately good in a short space of time. Also I imagine that the tv execs realised that the repetitive nature of a daily ballet class would not make riveting tv for the uninitiated. That said, the same is true of ballroom classes and yet they have found a way to bring that to a tv audience.

    With regard to 'So you think you can dance?', I guess the title says it all really. I agree with you, watching these shows can be an uncomfortable experience when you see people who think they have more talent in a given area than is actually the case. I always wonder why the families of these people have encouraged them relentlessly - I have no issue with raising confidence in children and would encourage it, but once you hit adulthood reality steps in, and that process doesn't always seem to have been encouraged so well.

    But the title is provocative - if you put yourself up there to be judged then you also set yourself up for the potential to be disappointed.

    Still, watch we do ! With this programme - and this is no scientific study - what I noticed was that the auditionees with a ballet background had already been through vocational training. One had been an Apprentice with Northern Ballet Theatre, and Hugo Cortes had been dancing professionally with Ballet Black. I was sad that Hugo's visa situation was irretrievable because he is a mesmerisingly talented dancer, not unlike Paul Liburd from Scottish Ballet, and I really did want to see him in the final 14.

    So I'm not sure that what we've seen is actually people trying out ballet with little experience - what the BBC showed were people with vocational experience and who were therefore able to dance well. I'm surprised that professionals were allowed to audition alongside less experienced dancers, but I don't know what the brief was and perhaps this was done to maintain a high standard of dance and make a slightly different reality TV show.

    I thought they did really rush through the audition process, but at least one person with a ballet background made it through to the final 14. Whoever wins should be a truly versatile dancer - though I personally would rather watch a specialist do brilliantly in one area than be a jack of all trades and do them all moderately.

  10. Hello Elise! Happy New Year to you! Thank you for your visit!

  11. What a great interview. You lead an amazing life. Wishing you God's best for 2010. Blessings, Martha

  12. Hi Elise,

    Thank you for stopping by my blog to wish me a Happy New Year... I too wish you all the best in 2010

    Victoria xx

  13. What a pretty young woman. I would love to see her dance.

    I always wanted my daughter to be a dancer, and she trained for a little while, and was even scouted by some folks from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet company, but she grew to be 5ft. 10in. tall... *sigh*

  14. wow...I really enjoyed this article! It makes me wish I was not to old to start ballet now!

  15. wow that picture capturing tracy and matthew looks just simply amazing! very beautiful

  16. Michela - thank you

    Martha's Favorites - thank you !

    AudreyAllure - thank you again !

    Florence and Mary - you are very welcome

    Jo - I hope you do !

    Erica - thank you. You know, it's never too late to give it a go - it doesn't have to be vocational to be enjoyable.

    xLovelyMakeupx - always helps to have a great partner doesn't it ?

  17. Whar a fantastic interview! I have always loved learning about the art of dance and especially ballet. Thank you so much. Your posts are always interesting.

  18. Thank you for posting such wonderful comments, Elise structures wonderful interviews and I am happy to have been a part of one. Happy New Year to everyone.

    Best wishes,


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