What do Royal Ballet dancers do on their summer break?
As the curtain closes on another season, we find out what ballet dancers do to relax and unwind.
After a jam-packed season, which included three world premieres, the Royal Ballet dancers are enjoying a well-earned summer break. In the course of the season, members of the corps de ballet dance around 134 shows. By August, rest, relaxation and replenishing energy levels are a priority.
How the dancers spend their holidays depends on their work options and the repertory scheduled for the next season. However, it is also a personal choice. Some people head straight to sun-drenched beaches for piña coladas, while others make the most of the time off for an annual trip home to loved ones. We caught up with First Artist Nathalie Harrison before she went on holiday to find out her plans.
“Unbelievably, this year saw the curtain fall on my ninth season. The end of season is always awash with mixed emotions, and this year, as there was no international tour, it rather crept up on us,” she explained.
“As a ‘London girl’, I’m blessed with family and friends being around the corner. However as our schedule isn’t the most sociable, I have put aside some time for them this summer,” says Nathalie. “I have family in the West Country, so I’m looking forward to walks on the beach, ice creams in the rain and lots of rural beauty before getting back to the concrete jungle. I am also going to Cyprus for some sunshine and down time, though I’ll be swimming and stretching to wind down and keep my body ticking over.”
This summer, Nathalie is also dancing in Nicholas Hynter’s production of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. The play, at the National Theatre in London until the end of October, features choreography by Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson.
“Ed has choreographed a beautiful duet for one of the scenes, and I’m so excited to take part,” Nathalie explains. “I love the idea of having a little adventure and experiencing another stage.”
Nathalie is performing with fellow First Artist Olivia Cowley. “We’re calling it our South London Tour 2012,” she continues. “We’ve have been practising our lines whilst scurrying across Waterloo Bridge, inadvertently shouting Shakespeare at tourists!”
This year, a few of the dancers will travel to Dar Danse, a new dance retreat in Morocco headed by former Royal Ballet dancer Francesca Filpi and osteopath Jennie Morton. An eco-friendly resort on the coast, it offers a range of health and wellness getaways and ballet retreats that include courses with Royal Ballet dancers. [Please note that although the resort was set up by a former dancer, and members of the Company take part, Dar Danse is not endorsed by The Royal Ballet.]
“Several of the gang are joining Francesca in Morocco,” Nathalie explains. “Hopefully I will be there soon – possibly mid-season. It’s a venture we are all excited to support and will certainly be frequented by us over the next few years, of that I’m sure.”
The Royal Ballet 2012/13 season, which will include new works from six contemporary choreographers, promises to be as busy as the preceding one. The season opens on 6 October with Anthony Dowell’s classic production of Swan Lake, which will be screened live across the world on 23 October.
“I can’t wait for next season,” Nathalie concludes. “It’s such an exciting time: we have a fresh ballet mistress to preen the swans in preparation for Swan Lake and our new director, Kevin O’Hare. Here’s to happy dancing days ahead!”