By Former Australian Ballet Senior Artist – Felicia
A day as a dancer with the Australian Ballet
The Australian Ballet has reputably one of the most grueling schedules of any Ballet Company worldwide. Seven shows a week, 250 shows each year and only Sunday to yourself.
I am often asked what the “average” performance day was like so thought I would provide a little window into my usual daily routine…
The first class of the day starts around 10am but you would always arrive early to get ready and check the daily schedule. As a soloist, senior artist or principal you can choose your classes but in the Corps you are allocated where you need to be and when. There were two morning classes to choose from and it was this ballet class that would set you up for the day, getting your body moving and your mind focused.
After the morning class there was a 15 minute break and then rehearsals would start for the day. All rehearsals on a show day ran from 11:30am til 3:30pm. After this I would usually eat dinner and try to squeeze in a power nap (often in the dressing room under my make-up table!) before I was expected at the theatre at 5pm to start getting organised. With costumes laid out, shoes sewn and hair done I would attend the ballet barre warm up class from 6pm . The barre was an optional warm up but we all participated. It was the best way to get ready for the show, stretching and warming our muscles and practicing any last-minute tricks or moves we needed too.
In the hour before show time I would shower and put full stage make-up on , often including body painting if a swan/ghost or other “otherworldly” creature.
All performances start at 7.30pm with an additional matinée on Saturday and an early show on Monday evenings. When I look back I realise it was such an extreme schedule, but at the time is was my entire world – we used to joke we had no idea what it was like to live a normal life and not that of a dancer!
The performance was what you were working toward every day and throughout all of the years of training. Having the live audience, the music and the wonderful dancing roles was the highlight of every day.
The show would end around 10pm and I would take my make-up off, shower and cool down. The coaches would come and talk to us about our performances and then I would organise myself for the next day and head home around 11.30pm for a light bite to eat and head to bed with the music swirling in my head and my mind on the ballet. Saturday nights were a little different and we would usually head out as a group near the theatre to catch up on the weeks events and – if our feet could handle it – a little more dancing!
It was an amazing 10 years with The Australian Ballet and although it was physically tough it was absolutely incredible.
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