I had an opportunity recently to ask Olivia Book some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Olivia is an amazing dancer, her determination and strength in ballet is incredible, she never lets anything hold her back. She graces the stage with incredible poise and grace. Her love for ballet is incredible. Below are her responses.
Q1: When did you start ballet?
I started ballet when I was 3 but I started to really love it and focus on in when I was 12
Q2: Where do you currently dance?
I currently dance at Ballet West Academy in the Professional Training Division
Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?
I started dancing en pointe when I was 12
Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?
I currently wear Grishko(Nikolay in the USA) 3007’s
Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?
I started in competitive dance when I was 9 and even though I did multiple style of dance like tap, jazz, hip hop and ballet my studio was more heavily focused on ballet unlike most competitive studios. I think what really pushed me to focus more on ballet was watching all the older girls at my studio as well as watching professional ballerinas and thinking to myself that I want to be as amazing as them one day
Q6: What is your favourite variation?
My favourite variation to watch is the Act 1 Aurora Variation mostly because of how elegant the music is and how the choreography is just so stunning. Although my favourite variation to dance is the second female variation from Flower Festival.
Q7: What company would you love to work for?
I’m very open minded when it comes to companies because I would just like to be apart of one with a kind and non-toxic environment. Although my dream company is definitely the Royal Danish Ballet
Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?
My favourite memory in ballet was in 2018 when I attended a workshop with Kizzy Matiakis, Principal at the Royal Danish Ballet where she invited me to the Royal Danish Ballet Summer School. After attending the summer school I knew I wanted to start training more professionally and hopefully become a professional dancer. I learned so much and met so many amazing people that summer and it changed myself as a dancer as well as a person and it will forever be one of the highlights in my life
Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.
My ballet role models are Kizzy Matiakis and Holly Dorger, both principals at the Royal Danish Ballet. I admire both their artistry and technique so much, watching them dance is breathtaking and they’re both some of the kindest people i’ve ever met. Hopefully i’ll get to watch them perform in person one day!
Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?
Best advice i’ve received was from my previous ballet teacher Alice Burke. She told me this a few days before my first YAGP in 2019, she said “your body knows what it’s doing, trust it. Your technique will work and shine through even if you’re not thinking about it. So just go out there and perform, and let your body do what it does best: dance.” I love this advice because I think more often that not we focus so much on the technique of everything that we forget the most important part is the artistry
Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?
Advice I would give myself is to believe in yourself. When I was younger I wasn’t very confident and was self-conscious about my arm(although I kind of still am) so I would tell my younger self to not worry what other people are thinking, especially in dance class. Everyone is focused about themselves so don’t worry so much, it won’t help you in the long run
Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?
The best thing about being a ballerina is knowing that you get to do what you love every day. Being able to perform on stage and play different characters is such a wonderful aspect that comes with this wonderful feeling that is too difficult to explain
Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?
I think the most difficult thing about being a ballerina the constant drive and motivation you need to have everyday to keep progressing as a dancer. As well as continuing to work hard even when you may not be seeing big results of your work everyday, as nothing is instant and everything is so gradual and takes time.
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”?
I don’t think I had days where I didn’t want to become a ballerina but I did have days when I didn’t think it was possible for me to become a ballerina and it definitely took time for me to get out of that feeling and believe in myself
Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?
Ooo that’s a tough one because I love romantic tutus as their used in many Bournonville ballets, like Napoli, but classical tutus are so goregous and make you feel like a shining star!!
Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?
I’m not sure if this would be considered serious but the most severe injury i’ve had was when I subluxed(popped out and back in) my knee cap. It was one of those injuries where I was able to start dancing again after a week but had to slowly build strength in my knee to be able to do everything in class again. It took about 2 months for me to get through a whole day of dance without any discomfort or pain and it was definitely a test of my resilience.
Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?
On my free time I usually watch Netflix or Youtube just to fully relax or I’ll sew new pointe shoes while I watch tv. But I also love to bake, research ingredients to cook with and plan out what I’m doing to make for dinner next week!