Life as a dancer

Essay by bakerwk July 2004

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The Australian ballet is a classical ballet company that tours nationally and internationally. It is a multi-million dollar business with an artistic and a business side. Threes much more to ballet than the dancers you see on stage. The drive to dance started inside me in childhood and has been there ever since.

I entered the company straight from ballet school to join the corps de ballet. Here I learnt more about stagecraft, and picked up helpful tips on performance and make-up from older dancers. Moods, such as sadness, surprise or happiness, are expressed through the movents and through mime. I can remember when I performed for the very first time. I can remember taking on a number of roles within the one production, changing role from one performance to the next. This was meant reduce injury and strain and was also to give me a wide experience as well as different perspectives of the ballet.

That's around how many the company wear out each year. A dancer can go through 3000 pairs of shoes in a career. I think I went through around a 500. As a dancer I did wear point shoes, which have hard leather soles and a firm block for the toes to fit in

For the shoes. Can you imagine a mountain of 10000 shoes?

I didn't go home with a book of steps to practice a ballet the way a pianist has a book of music pieces. I had to memorize the movements. It takes about half an hour to teach a four-minute solo, but teaching 35 swans in Swan Lake takes much longer. While I was performing a ballet in the evenings the next day I was rehearsing for the next ballet so I had to remember even more roles.

A day...