Even though it has been three years since I decided to hang up my ballet shoes and pursue my ballet teaching career, thinking back on my time dancing with the Royal Ballet is still one of the proudest achievements in my life, and a time I will treasure forever.
A typical day for me would start with waking up around 07:15 in the morning. As I am very quick in the morning I would aim to leave the house around 08:15, which gave me an hour to enjoy my morning coffee, eat breakfast and have a shower.
I was one of those dancers that needed a good warm up before ballet class, it just made me feel more prepared for the day ahead, so I always tried to arrive at the Royal Opera House around 09:00. That gave me an hour to warm up before the start of the morning ballet class and my official working day.
Ballet class for a professional dancer is similar to a non-dancer taking their vitamins daily. In comparison to a ballet student where ballet class is used to learn new steps and develop their ballet technique, for a professional dancer the daily ballet class is to maintain our ballet technique and to get our joints and muscles nicely warmed up for rehearsals and performances that day.
After ballet class I would either get a 15-minute break for a one-hour lunch break before the start of the rehearsal day. On a performance day, which is about 4-5 times per week, the rehearsal day would finish at 17:30. That gave myself and my colleagues two hours before the start of the performance, so we would eat, rest and get our make-up and costumes prepared. On a non-performance day rehearsals could run until 18:30.
To a lot of people’s surprise, what we rehearse during the day is usually not for the performance that evening, we are already rehearsing for the following production that we are not yet performing.
With all the amazing facilities at the Royal Opera House for the dancers, even spare time in the building is easily filled up with going to the gym, getting a massage or visiting the physiotherapy department.
A performance usually finishes around 22:30, after which I would need at least another half an hour to get out of my costume, remove my make-up, have a quick shower and head home. I never went to bed early with my busy performance schedule.
When I used to get home I always enjoyed watching a bit of TV and then it was off to bed to repeat the same process the following day.
Now that I teach at Elmhurst Ballet School, the most amazing thing is that I am free in the evenings! To a lot of non-dancers this will sound strange, but I am sure that all performers understand what I mean.