N: When was the ﬁrst time you performed at Opera Holland Park?
L: I think I must have been about 12 years old and it was our end of year summer show. How about you?
N: Last year was my ﬁrst performance here. We normally perform our ﬁrst four shows at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre, which as you know closed for refurbishment so last year we moved to Opera Holland Park.
L: How did you ﬁnd it?
N: We loved it – there was a really nice atmosphere. We particularly loved the open air aspect of the theatre – having birds singing around you, and all sounds of the outdoors. It was also great to be in a beautiful green setting.
L: I remember the peacocks making lots of noise during our shows!
N: Yes – they still do! We also had a couple of birds flying through the auditorium when we were on stage!
L: As a ballet student, how important to you is it to perform in the end of year performances?
N: So important. It’s the culmination of our entire year, in a way. When you’re in the studio slogging away it’s sometimes hard to remember why you’re doing it. It’s also really important for us to have something to work towards at the end of the year – performing is why we’re all here.
L: Don’t you think performing in such a beautiful venue brings added magic to the experience?
N: Yes deﬁnitely. The atmosphere of the theatre really makes a difference. Obviously you’ve got huge experience dancing on the Royal Opera House stage. What do you think is the difference when you’re dancing in an environment like Opera Holland Park?
L: It’s such a unique theatre, and a special experience for the audience watching it. They often arrive feeling a bit more relaxed and can really enjoy it. It’s just as special, but in a very different way. The stage at Opera Holland Park is big, so you don’t have to moderate anything or hold back, you can really give it everything you need to give.
One of the challenges of being in an outdoor venue is that you can’t control the weather. I have vivid memories of performing while it was teeming down with rain, and having to avoid a puddle here and there. I know the conditions have improved dramatically since then, but I do remember that being quite a funny challenge when we were there.
N: There are no leaks now thankfully, so we had a dry stage despite the rain last year – but it was quite cold. We had to make sure we stayed wrapped up in jackets in the wings and only stripped off just before going on!
L: It’s amazing though, as soon as you’re on stage, you completely forget about the weather and get lost in the performance.
N: What have been your favourite roles to play in your career so far?
L: That’s a really hard question! It’s tricky because I seem to fall in love with every role that I’m dancing at the time, and we’re so lucky at The Royal Ballet to perform such a wide variety of roles. Choosing my favourite would be like choosing my favourite child! I’d deﬁnitely say that I have been constantly inspired by the different challenges I’ve had with The Royal Ballet, both classical and dramatic, and even creating work with different choreographers. Ballet started out as a pink dream for me, just a bit of fun, but as I’ve grown up and become more mature, the roles I’ve been offered have seemed to have coincided with my own personal growth. I’ve felt that, along the way, I’ve been able to give more and develop more and that has kept me so inspired. It’s been such a blessing and something I didn’t expect.
L: What are you performing at Holland Park this year?
N: There are quite a few different pieces, but one of them is Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, which I’ve really enjoyed working on. I’m learning the third movement principal role –the casting hasn’t yet been decided, but it’s really exciting to learn it.
L: You’re joining us at The Royal Ballet later this year after you graduate. As an aspiring dancer, what are the roles you would really like to perform?
N: I’d have to say the more dramatic roles. The part of ballet I really enjoy is the drama of it, the acting. Some of my dream roles are Juliet and Manon – I particularly love Manon. But I’m really aware that you have to work your way up – at the beginning it’s all about being in line and making sure you’re one of the pack.
L: One of the pack yes, but within those big ballets you can also really create your own role. I remember when I was in the corps de ballet for Romeo and Juliet, I was Veronica. I sold sprouts on my stall in Verona, and I was very jealous of the meat sellers, because in the storyline they were always getting much more money than the sprout sellers, so we were constantly having arguments. It’s fun to get into your character and create stories because everyone on stage is part of the scene, so you can ﬁnd your place within that. It’s a great place to start and, bit by bit, as the roles get harder, you already understand how to develop a character. I hope you enjoy your performances at Opera Holland Park this year.