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Q&A: Gary Avis of The Royal Ballet
The Principal Character Artist answers your questions.
Storified by Royal Opera House · Fri, Dec 14 2012 08:28:26
@chandler_ch: What age were you when you knew you wanted to be a ballet dancer?
Gary: Initially I wanted to be a musical theatre dancer. I got the ballet bug at performing arts college… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …I’d done ballet training from 12 but only auditioned for @RoyalBalletSch at 17. #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@chloecjoly: Which role would you love to dance?
Gary: I’d have loved to have danced Prince Rudolf in Mayerling-as well as a great dancing role, he’s a great character… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …For character roles, I’d love to dance Carabosse from The Sleeping Beauty or Widow Simone (La Fille mal gardée) #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@ArtyClarkey: Who are your dance heroes?
Gary: Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire. I’m inspired by their films – I love ‘American in Paris’,'Singing in the Rain’ and ‘Bandwagon’ #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: ‘Bandwagon’ particularly because it was a number I performed with @DarceyOfficial on her Viva la diva arena tour. #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@tabbytwitch85: If you could turn any story into a ballet, what would it be and what character would you play?
Gary: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I’d like to play Willy Wonka (Christopher Wheeldon, if you’re reading this…) #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@sonalihindmarch: I’m 32 but would love to get involved in ballet. What would your advice be?
Gary: It’s never too late! Take a look online for local ballet classes. Strictly has made adult ballet really popular! … #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …dance and ballet has become more acceptable for men too – which is great and a real change from when I started! #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary Avis as Drosselmeyer and Brian Maloney and Bethany Keating as Dolls in The Nutcracker ©Johan Persson/ROH 2010Royal Opera House Covent Garden
@elliottfranks: Are you planning to develop your acting ability and to explore non-dance opportunities in TV/Film in the future?
Gary: …I’d definitely consider it though- maybe my musical theatre career will kick off. Any directors – http://www.garyavis.com #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@oyayubi2: What is your favourite scene from The Nutcracker?
Gary: The transformation because I *actually* believe I’m transforming the #ROHnutcracker stage. It has such beautiful music! #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@DaveTriesBallet: You’re such an awesome Drosselmeyer – do you have a favourite part of The Nutcracker (to perform or watch)?
Gary: I love watching the pas de deux after the battle scene because I also coach it… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …so it’s great to watch the Clara and Nephew who I’ve coached perform it and see the end result… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …I also love the magic tricks but sometimes it’s touch and go! #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@hunofbun: What would your ultimate Christmas indulgence be?
Gary: Definitely Christmas decorations, I’m like a magpie – anything that glitters, I have to have in my house! … #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …my ultimate Christmas indulgence is Tunis cake though > http://bit.ly/Y13V0f #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Zenaida Yanowsky, Gary Avis and Nehemiah Kish in The Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake © ROH/Bill CooperRoyal Opera House Covent Garden
@theballetbag: What’s the most challenging character role to perform with The Royal Ballet and why?
Gary: The most challenging are the female roles (eg Ugly sisters in Cinderella/Duchess in Alice)… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@knittingtastic: Do you prefer playing a goodie or baddie (boo hiss!)?
Gary: I like playing both as they both have their strengths. I like being a baddie because it’s like having an alter ego… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …but it’s always nice getting cheers rather than boos because I am actually a ‘Mr Nice guy’! #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@heyhojudes: What would you like for Christmas?
Gary: A rest or a holiday to Mauritius! Anything that glitters (Tunis Cake *cough*) & anything that fits through stage door ;) #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@psldn: How did you become involved with The Hunger Project UK, the charity that you’re patron of?
Gary: My partner is the UK Director. I was then asked to create a Gary Avis & Friends gala (we raised £50,000) … #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …and I wanted to further my involvement. You can find out more about them at http://www.thehungerproject.co.uk/ #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
What do you love most about dancing with The Royal Ballet?
Gary: I love performing at the ROH. I love the rep and I love the sense of teamwork and the family of dancers I work with daily #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
What’s the hardest part about being a professional dancer?
Gary: Getting up in the morning and as I’m getting older, the aches and pains that I get on a regular basis… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …That said, the pros definitely outweigh the cons – I’m very lucky! #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@zxDaveM: Are you the largest individual user of glitter confetti in The Royal Ballet?
Gary: In the world, surely!? #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary Avis and Steven McRae at The National Dance Awards 2011 © ROH 2011Royal Opera House Covent Garden
@becca_tweet: You were recently the Ballet Master for Infra, how did you help the second cast find ‘their’ interpretation?
Gary: We taught the choreography and then gave them space and time to develop their interpretation… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …I can only guide, it’s not good to dictate. It’s good not to replicate the 1st cast as it keeps the ballet fresh #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@hunofbun: If you could dance with any partner (dead or alive), what/who would it be and why?
Gary: [pondering pause] That’s a really tough question! I’ve been fortunate to dance with many of The RB’s greats… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: …it would be unfair to choose one (dead or alive!). #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
@TomT1980: What was your highlight of 2012?
Gary: Livescreening with The Royal Ballet and presenting #ROHnutcracker plus partnering with Darcey Bussell… #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Gary: for The Spirit of the Flame at the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony. That was amazing! #AskGaryAvisRoyalOperaHouse
Darcey Bussell and Royal Ballet Principals at the London 2012 closing ceremony © Reuters/Gary HershornRoyal Opera House Covent Garden
Gary Avis is currently performing the role of Drosselmeyer in
which runs until 16 January 2013.