I had the opportunity recently to ask Jemma Nishanian some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Jemma is a phenomenal dancer, she takes to the stage with great poise and grace. Her passion for ballet is fantastic. Below are her responses.
Q1: When did you start ballet?
I started ballet when I was around 12 years old and I started dancing when I was 4
Q2: Where do you currently dance?
I currently dance full-time at DanceWorks Sydney
Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?
I have been en pointe for 4 years
Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?
The pointe shoes I currently wear are Grishkos 2007’s – I love them!
Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?
I did jazz, hip hop and contemporary since I was very young. My dance school at the time introduced RAD ballet classes. I took 2 ballet lessons a week for a year and I fell in love with it. The year after I decided to leave my dance school to go to focus on ballet at a ballet school.
Q6: What is your favourite variation?
I have so many variations I love. My favourites would have to be Giselle (act 1), 3rd shade from La Bayadere, and lilac fairy from Sleeping Beauty.
Q7: What company would you love to work for?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite company as it would be a dream to do what i love everyday anywhere in the world
Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?
My favourite ballet memory would be the feeling before going on stage. I love waiting in the wings before a performance I get such a rush of adrenaline and excitement every time
Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.
I have so many ballet role models. Marianela Nunez and Natalia Osipova are some of my favourite dancers as they exude such passion and energy on stage. Misty copeland is also an inspiration as I can relate to her feeling set back in ballet as I started relatively late also. My ballet teacher Miss Olivia is also big role model to me as she inspires to be resilient and to work hard everyday
Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?
“Stay in your own lane” – this advice reminds me to just focus on my own journey. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” – Ballet has never been easy or has come natural to me. I have really had to work hard on every aspect of my dancing. I believe having a strong work ethic and discipline will lead to success in ballet
Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?
I would say to be more patient and kinder to myself. Not to feel defeated and upset with myself when I can’t do things perfectly. I would also say to enjoy the process
Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?
The best thing about ballet I would say is getting to perform! Personally, I am a naturally quite a shy person and I love it because it is a form of art and self expression.
Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?
Ballet is physically demanding on your body and dealing with injuries has been a struggle for me. I would also say balencing a busy ballet schedule with doing school also
Q14: It seems like such hard work, did you ever have days growing up where you were like “ugh maybe I’ll just pick an easier career so I can be like a normal teenager”?
Not really, I have always wanted to dance. I have never felt forced to do it, It has always been something I have wanted to do. When I couldn’t dance in quarantine and also being injured it really gave me time to think and realise how much I missed ballet. I felt lost without it as ballet is a such a big part of who I am
Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?
I love both! but i would have to say classical tutus!
Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?
Yes, I have! This has been a tough year for me as I have had to take time off ballet due to being injured. Despite the mental and physical challenges, I have tried to take this as an opportunity to learn and grow. I have realised going back to basics wasn’t such a bad thing as i could strengthen and change bad habits that has ultimately improved my technique
Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?
In my spare time, I love drawing and reading. I also enjoy going to the beach and spending time with friends and family.