When did you begin dancing?

I started ballet at seven. A family friend recommended my older sister try it, so naturally, Mum took me along as well.

What made you want to pursue ballet as a career?

I remember watching The Nutcracker on video and replaying the pas de deux, the dance for The Sugar Plum Fairy, over and over; the music definitely is a strong influence. My training has included classical ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary and character dance. As I continued with dance, I fell in love with ballet. I learned more about the art and gained a greater understanding and appreciation of it.

Describe the moment you joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet?

It was such a surprise. I was in my graduating year at the Australian Ballet School and the previous RNZB director, Ethan Stiefel, watched some rehearsals for our graduate performance. A few weeks later the company asked if I'd go to New Zealand to fill in for injured dancers in the show, Giselle. Of course I accepted and two weeks later, just after finishing my final ballet exams, I was in New Zealand, quickly learning the routines just days before the premiere.

Where has dance taken you?

In the four years I’ve been with the company I've travelled to China, America, the UK, Italy and Hong Kong.

How did you land the role of Juliet? QA INP

It was completely unexpected. I found out when artistic director and choreographer, Francesco Ventriglia, gave me a gift before a show earlier this year: a beautiful copy of the book of Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare's work is a masterpiece and combined with Prokofiev's score; it’s a dancer’s dream. I’m looking forward to delve into character and enjoy this wonderful opportunity.

What does a typical day involve for you?

Ballet warm up class starts at 9.30am, followed by three blocks of rehearsals. We have an hour for lunch and finish at 6pm. Dancing six days a week is demanding on the body. Some days you have aches and pains in your muscles and joints and the thought of dancing around on your toes all day seems impossible. For dancers, our biggest fear is injury because our bodies are our instrument. Having danced from such a young age, I’ve built up the strength to deal with the workload, though. I like when there is a story to follow because I’m focussed on portraying a character which distracts from how tiring the piece may be.

What do you love most about ballet?

It feels so natural to dance and it's been my normal for so long. I love moving and being inspired by the music and responding through movement.

The world premiere of Romeo and Juliet begins in Wellington on August 16. It tours the country before closing in Napier, September 24. See rnzb.org.nz for further show dates and locations.

Reported by Monica Tischler for our AA Directions Winter 2017 issue

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