I hope you have enjoyed, or still are enjoying, World Ballet Day 2020. During the long segment from The Royal Ballet you will have seen Marianela Nuñez and Yasmine Naghdi during class and in rehearsal. Lauren Cuthbertson is in the last stages of her pregnancy so this year wasn't present as she chose probably the best time in the history of the company to take time off.
While in lockdown I talked to these three jewels in The Royal Ballet's crown. Using the luxury of not having print column inches to respect, we were able to chat, and chat… and chat.
I was born loving pressure and pressure makes me kind of push more and get in the zone. It just drives me. I'm not going to lie: now that I'm older, there are moments where I have to tell myself, come on Nela, you've worked hard, you've done this before, you've rehearsed. So yes, the nerves are very strong but so is the passion and that counterbalance is fantastic.
I always come from how I feel on the inside. You know, the minute I hear that Sugar Plum Fairy music I get a certain feeling because it's so refined, like delicate bone china, and when you come out to dance Sylvia, I think, well… maybe British beef! I draw those sorts of parallels. I do think about what the audience takes away from my performance too, but I think it has to start with how I feel. It's like having a palette and painting different colours. I think I developed a bit later than many dancers because I'm attracted to lots of different qualities, and I don't really want to feel as though I've just got one area. That becomes a bit of a challenge because you can't actually do everything well at the same time.
I am not a ballet bunhead, so to speak. I'm not someone who watches ballet videos all day. I never really was. They inspired me obviously, and from time to time, yes, but I would never want to be completely immersed in it, day and night. I love having a normal life alongside my ballet life. It's different for everyone, and some people need to be in it all the time, but for me, I love the balance, that work/life balance. And I think it makes me appreciate it more when I come back to it.
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.