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Ballet in Brisbane: The Royal Ballet's Olivia Cowley shares what life is like on tour

The Royal Ballet Soloist shares the buzz of performing at Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane.

By Olivia Cowley (Soloist of The Royal Ballet)

5 July 2017 at 5.24pm | 1 Comment

Touring is always an exciting time for a dancer and performing in Brisbane was no exception.

I came here for eight days, where I performed two shows of 'Becomings' in Woolf Works. It's a very strenuous role, so the flight and inevitable jet lag was playing on my mind. A long haul flight (13 hours to Singapore and another eight hours from Singapore to Brisbane) is not desirable for anyone, especially not a dancer. If you're lucky enough ever to share a flight with The Royal Ballet, you'll see dancers at the back of the plane (by the toilets!) stretching, doing some pilates, reviewing the films they've just seen, to keep inflammation and tightness at bay. A lot of us also wear recovery socks, tights, or both, and suck on zinc tablets to keep our immune systems up.

We had two days off to recover from this flight, but I did the optional class on the second day as I needed to keep up my stamina and strength for my shows at the end of the week. My body didn't feel too bad but the jet lag was on a whole other level!

It's incredible how jet lag can affect your dancing. Part two of Woolf Works is incredibly exhausting at the best of times but after my stage call it felt much harder. I felt like I had been hit by a bus; I vomited after – I think through sheer exertion.

My achilles tendinitis really stirred up after the flight as well, so it was physiotherapy for me everyday and rest whenever I could, even though it's really tempting to go out in your free time and explore the city.

It can be frustrating at times to travel somewhere and only see the theatre, your hotel and local restaurants but it's a sacrifice you make to perform the best shows you possibly can when you're there. It's not every tour that this is the case. But for me, this tour was short with an intense workload. It's not just rehearsals and performances that take up our time: before a full call rehearsal of Woolf Works I had a photoshoot and interview with Brisbane's Courier Mail. I felt incredibly lucky to be part of promoting the Company in this way.

I was happy (and relieved!) that both my shows went well. It was electric out there on stage, with a fantastic energy from everyone. The audiences were incredibly warm, and we even got a standing ovation!

Brisbane, you have been a blast. 'Til next time...

This is a shortened extract from Olivia Cowley's website,, where you can see more of her photos of The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House and beyond.

By Olivia Cowley (Soloist of The Royal Ballet)

5 July 2017 at 5.24pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged #Royalballettour, Brisbane, Olivia Cowley, QPAC International Series, Royal Ballet tour, The Royal Ballet, Woolf Works

This article has 1 comment

  1. Edward Maxwell responded on 12 July 2017 at 11:10am Reply

    Thank you, Olivia! You make it all look so smooth on stage that it's good to be reminded of the how hard dancers work to achieve perfection. I hope you enjoy the rest of the tour.

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