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ENB: My First Ballet – Q&A with the Dancers

As The English National Ballet School prepare to dance in this beautifully adapted new version, some of the dancers sat down for a quick Q&A…

 

Imogen Ginty

What or who inspired you to take up ballet? Can you remember the first lesson or performance you attended?

I started ballet aged 3 as something fun to do. I didn’t always communicate well as a child, so ballet was good for me, I loved being around other children and dancing together. Seeing Swan Lake for the very first time was a turning point – I felt inspired by the glamour of the auditorium and the beautiful dancing.

What did it mean to you to get a place at English National Ballet School?

Amazing! I didn’t think I would get in. I was drawn to ENBS – it just felt like a good fit and the opportunity to do the My First Ballet performances really appealed too. The training at ENBS is intense with two ballet classes a day plus academic work. I live at home and my family are very supportive and proud of me so that helps.

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to dance in My First Ballet: Swan Lake?

It’s an opportunity that no other schools really offer. It’s a way of preparing to dance in a ballet company – a beautiful challenge to push yourself.

Tell us about the role you have been rehearsing – what are the best bits and the challenges?

I’m rehearsing the role of Odette. The artistic team who rehearse you ahead of the shows are very supportive, they respect that you are still a student and give you lots of background and context to what they are teaching you. As a member of a ballet company in the future, this will be such an important experience.

You’ll be taking My First Ballet: Swan Lake on tour around the country – what about touring are you looking forward to most?

I’m looking forward to visiting different places and dancing in different venues with different audiences and how that might feel. It will be great to be on tour with my friends, we are a very close year group.

How does it feel knowing that your performances of My First Ballet: Swan Lake often give children their first experience of ballet?

There’s a level of responsibility in that you want audiences to feel inspired and love ballet in the same way you do. It’s special for me as Swan Lake was the ballet that originally inspired me and I’ll now be hoping to inspire other young people with this same ballet.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

I want to make it as a professional ballet dancer but I also want to give back to the artform – to make an impact and pass on the knowledge that I have.

Harvey Littlefield

What or who inspired you to take up ballet? Can you remember the first lesson or performance you attended?

I was inspired by my mum. She runs a theatre school and so I did a lot of musical theatre. I then started ballet aged 10. I was a Scottish Ballet Junior Associate and attended the Dance School of Scotland. My sister also dances so it’s in the family!

What did it mean to you to get a place at English National Ballet School?

Security. It means I can see where I’m going. I’d done a summer school and then when I found out I’d got a full time place I was so excited. ENBS feels like the right fit for my personality.

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to dance in My First Ballet: Swan Lake?

SO exciting. This opportunity allows you to be step ahead, it feels like I’m preparing for a future as a dancer in a ballet company. It’s great working as a team – both students and creatives together.

Tell us about the role you have been rehearsing – what are the best bits and the challenges?

I’m rehearsing the Prince role. He is a character that is coming of age, he’s 18 but not looking for love and so he’s shocked that he’s being told to marry. He’s an emotional character but also quite reserved as he’s a prince. Usually I take on lots of different sections in a production, this is the first time I’ve focussed solely on one character. The artistic team, Antonio and Loipa, are really helping me with this challenge.

How does it feel knowing that your performances of My First Ballet: Swan Lake often give children their first experience of ballet?

It’s a really exciting opportunity to inspire children, not just with ballet but with theatre as a whole.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

I’d like to dance with a company in the UK and work my way up within it. I love musical theatre too so would like to revisit this in the future as well.

Beatriz Kuperus

What or who inspired you to take up ballet? Can you remember the first lesson or performance you attended?

My older sister inspired me. It was a natural thing, it felt just like breathing. I felt I had to do this. I have ADHD and found it hard to express myself at school, dancing was a release. It felt so good to dance.

What did it mean to you to get a place at English National Ballet School?

Amazing. I’d been at a small dance school in Colorado when I was offered a place at ENBS. I did a trial week and loved it. It’s a professional school but felt like home which made it easier to be away from my family.

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to dance in My First Ballet: Swan Lake?

I love being able to work with people from English National Ballet. I’ve just rehearsed with Loipa Araújo (Associate Artistic Director, English National Ballet). She has so much knowledge which was so good.

Tell us about the role you have been rehearsing – what are the best bits and the challenges?

I’m rehearsing the role of Odile. This is a new production so I’m being choregraphed on for this role which is incredible. This means I’m part of the creation of this character and during the process she has become more playful. It’s a new thing for me, staying in a character the whole time. I’m enjoying bringing her to life.

You’ll be taking My First Ballet: Swan Lake on tour around the country – what about touring are you looking forward to most?

It will be great to experience what life in a touring company is like. Performing is what I like most so this opportunity to go on tour and do so many performances is great. My friends feel like family, touring with them will be fun.

How does it feel knowing that your performances of My First Ballet: Swan Lake often give children their first experience of ballet?

I love that with this production you have young people performing for young people. The audience can watch the show and think ‘she’s like me!’ I want to inspire them and I hope that other children will find their form of expression and voice.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

English National Ballet is my dream company. London is the place to be, they really appreciate the arts here.

Wesley Branch

What or who inspired you to take up ballet? Can you remember the first lesson or performance you attended?

I saw Billy Elliot on the TV when I was 8 years old. I got it on video and watched it so much it stopped working. I begged my mum to let me start ballet but she wasn’t sure I’d like it. I’d done contemporary and African dance and then went to my friend’s ballet class aged 10. I can’t explain how it felt – I could move in a way that was comfortable, right.

What did it mean to you to get a place at English National Ballet School?

Amazing, I’d done ballet before but this was the start of my proper training for a career in dance.

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to dance in My First Ballet: Swan Lake?

It’s a great experience. I’ve learnt so much, not just ballet technique but how to tell a story on stage, especially using mime. It’s helping me become an artist – finding my independence in developing a character. It will be a great experience to have when it comes to auditioning for companies.

Tell us about the role you have been rehearsing – what are the best bits and the challenges?

I’m rehearsing the role of the Prince’s friend and also the Spanish dance. The hardest bit for me is looking natural on stage – you need to look somewhere in between a dancer and a natural character. I went to Madrid in half term and watched a flamenco show – it’s really helped me understand how to do the movements in the Spanish dance and get into that character.

You’ll be taking My First Ballet: Swan Lake on tour around the country – what about touring are you looking forward to most?

I’m looking forward to being away with my friends – that will be great. I’m also looking forward to seeing different places – I’m a Londoner who spends all his time in London so it will be great to experience new places.

How does it feel knowing that your performances of My First Ballet: Swan Lake often give children their first experience of ballet?

It’s lots of pressure, you want the young people watching the show to be inspired by what they see. It’s great that this is a ballet especially for children, it’s a great way for them to experience it for the first time.

What are you your future career plans and aspirations?

I would like to audition for English National Ballet and I’ve also always had the aim to audition in America at some point for both ballet and contemporary companies. I’ve been in the UK a long time – ENBS has people from all over the world – I want to explore somewhere different too. It’s not just the place itself but the different style of dance you get and the influences behind them.

Alongside ENB, ENBS will soon be moving to a new building in East London – having grown up in the area, what does this mean to you?

It’s really exciting. Having ENB and ENBS based in East London will mean increased access to the arts, especially dance, in the area, which I think is great. My mum is a teacher in the same borough we are moving to and she feels it will be incredibly inspiring to have a huge ballet company and school on the doorstep. I’m excited to see the impact this will have on a generation in this area.

Chloe Keneally

What or who inspired you to take up ballet? Can you remember the first lesson or performance you attended?

My older sister danced which made me want to. I started aged 4 and loved it, I enjoyed the freedom. I saw Sleeping Beauty first and loved it, it became my favourite ballet.

What did it mean to you to get a place at English National Ballet School?

It is a sacrifice being away from my family back home in Australia, but being here is a dream come true. Everything I’d been working for paid off. I loved the school, it was the only one I auditioned for.

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to dance in My First Ballet: Swan Lake?

Amazing. It feels like the first steps into the rest of our lives, it shows us what we can do in the future. The artistic team are very supportive which is great.

Tell us about the role you have been rehearsing – what are the best bits and the challenges?

I’m rehearsing Odette – it’s my dream role. It’s hard to remember it all but I’m embracing the challenge. I’m loving doing an entire ballet and building the character. I feel like I can relate to this character – falling in love, learning about trust and vulnerability.

You’ll be taking My First Ballet: Swan Lake on tour around the country – what about touring are you looking forward to most?

I’m excited to see different places in England and performing on different stages. The experience of seeing a production come together is great and of course staying in all the different hotels will be fun!

How does it feel knowing that your performances of My First Ballet: Swan Lake often give children their first experience of ballet?

It’s very exciting as seeing a performance on stage is how I was first inspired – I want our audiences to take the same feeling away.

What are you your future career plans and aspirations?

I’d like to dance with English National Ballet. I love the relationship between the school and company, it makes it feel like a home – I never want to leave!

You performed with ENB in Nutcracker at Christmas, can you tell us about that experience?

The English National Ballet dancers were so welcoming and supportive. They were so friendly and taking company class with them was inspiring and really allowed me to learn a lot. I took class next to Tamara Rojo – that was amazing!!

Don’t miss ENB presents one of the most famous ballets of all time together, in this beautifully adapted new version for children aged three upwards. The English National Ballet will perform at The Grand on the 5 & 6 May. Tickets can be bought by clicking here or calling our Box Office on 01253 290190.

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