Category: Ballet

Q&A With Australian Ballerina Isabelle Despoja

I had the chance recently to ask Isabelle Despoja some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Isabelle is a fantastic dancer, she graces the stage with poise and elegance. Her love for ballet is amazing. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

currently dancing in the ballet stream, first year at WAAPA

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I think I started point around 12-13, most common time to start

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I currently wear the capezio cambre shoes

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

Pretty general, mum took me to ballet when I was very little, haven’t stopped since

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

My favourite variation is the Don Q, Kitri variation from act 1 and second shade La Bayadere

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

I’d be happy to work anywhere ☺️, but would like to move overseas

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

Probably the last time I performed, which was at the RAD awards doing second shade, thoroughly enjoyed dancing on stage

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

I love Michaela Deprince from Dutch national ballet, as I have coloured skin and a muscular body, Michaela is a true role model for me

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

Don’t hold back, worst that could happen is you fall, but you won’t

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

To not hold back, and to trust your body, be confident with who you are

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

Having the opportunity to perform and be artistic

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

Everything

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”?

Yes all the time, those days I would talk to a lot of ppl, and try find myself

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

Classical

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

Yes, very common, shin splints, rolled ankle

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

Spend time with friends, and be a normal teenager

Q&A With Canadian Ballerina Tess Browning

I had the opportunity recently to ask Tess Browning some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Tess is a phenomenal dancer, she takes to the stage with incredible poise and elegance. Her passion for ballet is amazing. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I was 3! I started training seriously at 14

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

San Francisco Ballet School

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

Since I was 11 so 6 years

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

Russian pointe Rubin radiance

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My mom is actually a ballet teacher and owned a studio at the time so it was kinda destined that I would be a dancer haha

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

La Esmeralda! I think it’s from act one scene two. it’s not the one with the tambourine it’s with castenets!

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

San Francisco ballet or The Royal Ballet

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

I didn’t really have an exact moment but the feeling

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

Dancers that inspire you. So many but here are a few of my faves. Sasha de sola Marianela Nunez Yasmine naghdi Celine Gittens

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

To be you and believe in your self ! Sounds easy but it helps a lot if you relax and perform

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

To stop comparing your self to others, everyone is on their own path

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

Definitely performing for an audience! I love the silence in the theatre when you are dancing and feeling the audiences energy in the room it’s just magical!!

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

For me it’s always trying to stay in shape, especially with the whole dancing at home quarantine situation that is going on. Convincing yourself to keep training, strengthening, stretching, and eating well when you don’t know when your next performance will be is very tough

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”?

Yes all the time! When I was going to regular school and had friends in the “normal teenager” world I thought about that a lot. I just could never imagine my life without ballet and when I realized that I knew I had to keep working hard on my dream

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

Ooo tough choice! I think I have to say classical just cause it seems like a classic ballet look 🙂

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

No I haven’t, I’ve been really lucky. I do get the occasional little injury but nothing to serious

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I really love playing just dance on my Nintendo Switch haha. And also in the summer I like to go jet skiing! Other than that I like to spend time out side with family, friends, and pets!!

Q&A With American Ballerina Sydney Reed

I had the opportunity recently to ask Sydney Reed some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Sydney is a fantastic dancer, she takes to the stage with incredible grace and elegance. Her love for ballet is amazing. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

When I was 3

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

Academy of Russian Ballet

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

4 years

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

Grishko Miracles

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My mom signed me up for ballet when I was little and I’ve loved it ever since

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

Giselle Peasant pas Variation

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

My dream company is the Royal Ballet

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

Yes, my summer intensive (Joffery Colorado Springs) back in 2019

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

Skylar Brandt, and Autumn Klein

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

Never stop trying to improve

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

Don’t ever stop trying even if you’re tired

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

Being on stage and getting to preform and make people happy

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

Technique, and learning to correct your mistakes

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”?

Of course, everyone does, but you think about why you’re doing it and remember that you love what you’re doing. Sometimes you have to push through the tough times to remember that it’s all worth it in the end

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

Classical

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

I have had so knee injuries and ankle problems, but nothing I’ve ever had to be out a long time for

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I love to travel and hike with my amazing mother.♥️

Q&A With Australian Ballerina Alex Smalley

I had the chance recently to ask Alex Smalley some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Alex is a phenomenal dancer, she graces the stage with incredible poise and elegance. Her love for ballet is incredible. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started ballet when I was 5 and have loved it ever since!

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I am a Senior student at Ballet Theatre Australia in Melbourne

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I started pointe at 10, so six years now

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I have custom Bloch pointe shoes that are a mix of the the Bloch Balance European and the Bloch Euro-stretch

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My older sister does ballet too. I used to watch her dance when I was really young and decided it was what I wanted too

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

The Crystal Fountain fairy variation from Sleeping Beauty

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

My Dream companies are the Bolshoi and the Australian Ballet

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

One of my favourite ballet memories is performing a Paquita variation in front of a Russian Ballet Company

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

Maria Khoreva and Diana Vishneva are two of my favourite ballet dancers

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

Trust yourself

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

Stop caring so much about how others see you, focus on yourself

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

Definitely being able to express myself without words

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

Mental, physical and emotional fatigue

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”?

Many times. I actually quit ballet when I was 6 and again when I was 10. I really found my love for it again when I was 11

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

For me romantic. I feel less like a toilet brush ahaha

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

I have. Recently, actually. I had a benign tumour removed from my knee in late January and the tumour caused some nerve damage. I was in a wheelchair and then a metal brace for several months. I’m still doing rehab at the moment but I’m able to do classes and jumps 🙂

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I like sewing, songwriting and other crafty things. I can’t sing though (I sound like a dying cockatoo)

Q&A With American Ballerina Savannah Rief

I had the opportunity recently to ask Savannah Rief some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Savannah is an amazing dancer, she graces the stage with incredible grace and elegance. Her passion for ballet is incredible. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started taking ballet classes for fun when I was 6 but I didn’t start to take dance seriously until I was around 11

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I currently dance at Florida School for Dance Education

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I have been on pointe for 6 years

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

Right now I am switching off between wearing Russian Pointe and So Danca pointe shoes

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My mom put me in classes at a young age and after attending a summer intensive at my current studio I really began to take my ballet training seriously

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

Grand Pas Classique and Medora Act 3

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

My dream companies would be Houston Ballet, Royal Ballet and ABT

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

Competing at YAGP for the first time when I was 11 was a very memorable experience that I will never forget

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

Marianela Núñez, Maria Khoreva, Skylar Brandt and Isabella Boylston are some of my favorites

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

The best advice that I have received is that all goals are attainable as long as you work hard enough

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

If I could give my younger self advice it would be that confidence plays a big role in improvement

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

The best thing about ballet is that it is impossible to achieve perfection and there are always things to work on

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

The hardest thing about being a ballerina is remembering that progress doesn’t happen over night and you have to be patient with yourself

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 actually really enjoy the hard work that is associated with ballet so I never really struggled with the choice of picking a normal teenage life

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

Definitely classical

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

No I have been lucky enough to never suffer from any serious injuries. I have had some minor injuries in the past but nothing to serious

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I love to bake in my free time.

Q&A With Australian Ballerina Kenzie Andrews

I had the chance recently to ask Kenzie Andrews some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Kenzie is a fantastic dancer, she takes to the stage with incredible poise and elegance, her love for ballet is amazing. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I first started ballet at the age of 3

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I currently train at Atelier Australia on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I have been enpointe since the age of 10

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I currently wear Bloch Synthesis pointe shoes

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

I first found my love for ballet watching my cousins perform and compete here in Australia and in NY

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

My Favourite Variation at this point in time would have to Gamzatti. There is so much more to this Beautiful piece than meets the eye, and since learning it I have a true appreciation for technical Beauty of it

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

As far as Companies go I probably have quite a few that stand out for different reasons as I’ve grown as a dancer. So right now I couldn’t give you one answer. We will see where this road takes me

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

One of my favourite moments in ballet was the first time I stepped onto a International stage at the age of 9 in NY for the YAGP finals

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

I am truly inspired by many dancers for many reasons. Steve McRae is a true Aussie inspiration, having begun on the same stages I dance on here in Brisbane. I have worked with the Incredible Dusty Button, who taught me not to hold back being who I am. Petra Conti has overcome so much and is a real inspiration for what is possible. My list goes on and on haha

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

The best advice I’ve received from a teacher would be to learn how to adapt, as life, your body, your situation will be changing constantly

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

Advice I’d give my young self would be not to worry too much about what others are doing, as we all find our own path that is truly ours, and that cannot be compared

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

The best thing about being a ballerina for me is the opportunity to become a new character on stage and express emotions in a way that needs no words

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

he hardest thing about being a ballerina would be maintaining the motivation on those days when it’s only you and your doubts…. it can be scary

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’ve always loved ballet and I can’t remember ever thinking Hey maybe this isn’t for me

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

For me I think Classical tutu would be my favourite

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

So far I have not suffered a serious injury, I’ve had some full on growing pains as my legs grew extremely quick

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

In my free time I love spending time with friends and family…..shopping, going to the beach, or just chilling out at home watching movies.

Q&A With Australian Ballerina Macy West

I had the opportunity recently to ask Macy West some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Macy is an amazing dancer, she takes to the stage with incredible poise and elegance. Her love for ballet is incredible. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started ballet when I was 4 years old

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I am currently a pre professional artist with the Victorian State Ballet

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I’ve been en pointe for almost 6 years, since I was 11

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I wear Energetiks Stella’s

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

I first started ballet as an extracurricular activity before I started primary school and I became very focused on ballet when I started my Checcetti ballet exams when I was 10 years old.

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

I have so many! But my favourites are probably the Raymonda Hungarian variation, Raymonda’s Grand Pas Variation or Nikya’s death from La Bayadere

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

My dream companies are Queensland Ballet or the Australian Ballet, however I would love to continue my career as a part of the Victorian State Ballet

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

I have loved every experience I have had in ballet but my favourites are performing as a dwarf in Victorian State Ballet’s Snow White in 2017, participating in the Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensive in 2019 and being lucky enough to receive entry into the summer programs in Italy and Switzerland and being accepted in the the Pre Professional Program at VSB

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

Dancers that inspire me are Olesia Novikova, Svetlana Zakharova and Amber Scott. Also all the amazing company members at VSB

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

The best advice I’ve received was to perfect all the movements that create a step and build your muscle memory first before trying to perfect the harder movement. I find this advice can be used in every aspect of ballet whether it be a pirrouette or grand jete

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

I would tell my younger self to always be confident and never doubt your abilities. Also to have fun and remember why you started!

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

I think the best thing about being a ballerina is being able to do what I love every single day and be surrounded by wonderful and inspiring people. Ballet allows me to express myself through movement and I love using this to connect with the people around me

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

I think the hardest thing would be not comparing yourself to others and not letting minor errors effect the way you view your overall abilities, It’s very easy to get caught up in the stress of it all and forget about the positives

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 have always known this was the best fit for me and have loved every minute of it. Having supportive friends and family made this decision so easy and I’m so grateful to be supported by everyone around me

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

Both! They are both so beautiful

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

Thankfully I have never suffered a serious injury only small minor injuries here and there

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I love to spend time with friends and family.

Q&A With American Ballerina Haley Breslin

I had the chance recently to ask Haley Breslin some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Haley is a fantastic dancer, she takes to the stage incredible poise and grace, her love for ballet is amazing. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started ballet when i was 3, so 13 years ago

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I currently dance at Viktor Yeliohin’s international Ballet Academy

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I have been en pointe for 7 years

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I currently wear Russian pointe but have tried almost every brand

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

I first got involved in ballet because my older sister danced

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

Currently my favorite variation is either the paquita wedding variation or pas d’esclave from le corsaire.

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

My dream company would be Pennsylvania ballet

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

My favorite memory would be going to the National Ballet competition in Wilmington Delaware. It was such a great experience and i learned so much

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

A dancer that inspires me is Indiana Woodward. She has such a positive attitude and gives the best advice

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

The best advice i’ve received from a teacher is to remember to dance for yourself and not for someone else. As dancers we tend to work for someone else’s praise but we need to remember why we love what we do

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

The advice I would give a young version of myself is to keep a positive attitude, always be open to new ideas and to stretch more than I did when I was younger:)

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

The best thing about being a ballerina is seeing how far you have come. Each day you grow and improve a little more and it’s a good reminder that you are always improving and are better than you were yesterday

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

The hardest thing about being a ballerina is comparing yourself to others. I personally struggle with this a lot and I try to remind myself that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses

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”?

Yes I have had those days, but I just love dance so much and sometimes it’s helpful to just put on your favorite song and let your body move and it will speak for itself and you will remember why you love this path

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

I love classical tutus

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

Luckily I have not suffered from any serious injuries

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

Other than dancing, I love to hang out with friends, my family, and my church. I love love to be outside!

Q&A With American Ballerina Samantha Randall

I had an opportunity recently to ask Samantha Randall some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Samantha is a phenomenal dancer, she graces the stage with incredible poise and beauty. her love for ballet is amazing. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started ballet when I was around 2 1/2, but started training more professionally when I was 11

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I dance at SLK Ballet in NYC

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I’ve been en pointe for five years

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I currently wear Freed Studio Professionals!

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

When I was two, I went to see the Nutcracker with my family. I decided on that day that I wanted to be a professional ballerina and I wanted to be Clara and the Sugar Plum!

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

That’s so hard, I have so many! I love third shade, white swan, flames of paris, and Nikiya’s death

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

There are so many beautiful companies, but I grew up going to watch ABT perform, so that has always been my dream company

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

One of my favorite memories was performing as Clara in the Nutcracker because I was fulfilling a dream I’d held for so long!

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

I have so many ballet role models, including Skylar Brandt, Maria Khoreva, and Devon Teuscher

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

Don’t let other people’s doubt and negative comments get you down, because there are always people who believe in you and know you can succeed

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

You are special; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, keep your confidence and keep working hard!

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

The ability to express myself through movement and bring joy to others around me!

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

Having your ideal path set from a young age can be challenging, especially because we all have to make a lot of sacrifices along our journey, and that journey can be riddled with doubt and negativity. However, ballet is such a rewarding profession, and it makes all of the sacrifices worth it!

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 have definitely felt on some days that I was just so exhausted of the strenuous life, but then I realized that I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t a ballerina, and my love for the art form comes through and motivates me to keep going!

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

Classical for sure, though romantic tutus are beautiful as well!

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

The most serious injury I’ve had was Achilles tendinitis. I developed it in the spring of 2019 and had to deal with the pain all summer through my summer intensives and bit into the following school year. Though it was super painful and really annoying when I couldn’t jump for most of the Ellison Ballet intensive, I went to physical therapy and discovered how much I loved learning about the body. It was definitely a learning experience

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I probably spend most of my time outside of dance doing schoolwork, but I really love school so I don’t mind! I’m also a classical pianist, so I practice piano a lot as well. I also love to go bike riding, read, and spend time with my friends!

Q&A With American Ballerina Kenzie Woodward

I had the opportunity recently to ask Kenzie Woodward some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Kenzie is a fantastic dancer, she graces the stage with incredible poise and grace. Her passion for ballet is incredible. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

3 years old

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

Texas Ballet Theater

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

6.5 years

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

Bloch (European Balance)

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My mom put me in classes

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

Juliet’s beginning variation

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

Texas Ballet Theater or Colorado Ballet or American Ballet Theater

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

Christmas time performances were always the best because there are so many children and you can tell how much they love it. We did Peter in the Wolf for schools and I was the cat and when I jumped on stage they all gasped and it was the best feeling

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

Marianella Nuñez, Skylar Brant and Alexandra Farber

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

To let go and just dance

Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?

To not let my own frustration be my downfall

Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?

Performing and costumes. I absolutely love tutus and tiaras. If I ever stop dancing I want to go into costumes

Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?

Stamina and comparison

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”?

Yes 100% it’s very difficult to see all your friends out of Friday night having fun together but it just proves to me that I really love dancing

Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?

I like classical better but on me actually dancing I think Romantic

Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?

No

Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

Sew and hangout with my school friends