On the publication of Deborah Bull’s new book The Everyday Dancer she talked to The Observer’s Kate Kellaway. Here are some of her words:
It was a singing and dancing family… My mum was the principal boy and dad was the dame in all the pantomimes.”
It was never: I want to be a dancer. It was: I am going to be…”
On a Don Quixote in Japan
It grew out of something painful… I hadn’t been cast on the tour but, one by one, those who had been cast fell away and it became blindingly obvious I would have to do the opening night.”
She was jet-lagged and was without energy.
It was like when you are starving and root around in your handbag and find an old boiled sweet and it is the only energy you’ve got and you use it… Everything worked. It was like a dream because those things happen in dreams. Even now, in dreams, I will take off centre stage and do a leap which never ends… Dancing is about diverting attention inwards. Then a performer appears and you dance outwards but that is not necessarily you, it is something you have created.”
On eating disorders
… bulimia, self-harm, lesbianism, psychological and sexual abuse. Well, it’s not like that at the Royal Ballet.”
Though she herself had diet problems as a young ballerina. Her boyfriend at the time, Torje Eike, was a Norwegian physiotherapist. She told The Observer,
He was very knowledgable about nutrition. He came to work at the Royal Ballet and said: ‘Do you understand how your body works?’ And I thought: well, no, actually, I don’t. And because we were in a relationship, I trusted him.
I had been a child of the great protein myth. Women of my age can’t stop thinking potatoes and bread are bad. I had to turn it on its head: they are low-fat, high-energy foods and what you need. [The] second decade of my career was much less of a struggle and more joyful as a result of what I learned from him”.
In The Everyday Dancer, she writes:
Many, many dancers (and athletes) have proved it is possible to be lean yet healthy, in a demanding profession. Beauty need not be born of its own despair. There is no reason for any of us to be missing lunch.”
On experience in the corps
When you are right at the top, you know what it feels like to be the girl on her first day who can’t find a place at the barre.”
I am terrible at it. I am trying to learn… I go off on long stomps. I enjoy observing the changing seasons – something I have never done until now.”
read all via The Observer
The Everyday Dancer by Deborah Bull (£14.99, Faber and Faber)
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.