Cupcakes and Conversation with Qi Huan, the Royal New Zealand Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
When I wake up in the mornings, I don’t usually think too much. I just quickly wash up, get something to eat and go to work!
If ballet chose you, as many dancers say it did, what is it that has made you stick with it ?
I guess it is the feeling of being on stage doing, and be able to perform on a lot of stages throughout the world!
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
Principal Dancer Yuan Yuan Tan from San Francisco Ballet. I would love to dance Onegin.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
I would like to perform in my home country China for my family and friends there.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I start to work at 9 30 am when we have class which goes through until 11 am. Then we have three sections of rehearsal during the day until 5 45 pm. In between we have an hour lunch break.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?
I am not very fussy about food, I am happy with most things and tend to eat whatever I feel like on the day.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I try not to think about the show too much, sometimes I would talk with the other dancers or just do my own warm up exercises. So therefore once I am on stage I can really put myself into that zone!
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2014 ?
I am actually really looking forward to doing the US tour with RNZB. We will be doing Giselle and some other mixed programs! Giselle is one of my favorite ballets.
How do you deal with the stresses of performing ?
On the day of my performance, I normally try map out a schedule of my day which also outlines what I am going to eat. Also, I will make sure I have a nap before the show. I find that sleep helps me to relax.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Bruce Lee, Michael Jordan, Lee Cunxin, Margot Fonteyn, Audrey Hepburn, Steven Hawkins.
What would surprise people about you ?
I try to have two vegetarian days in a month. Most of my friends that I’ve known for a long time found it really interesting because I never used to do this.
Who inspired you to dance ?
My mum inspired me to dance! She is so passionate about the arts.
How would someone else describe you ?
Honest, nice and kind.
What is your best piece of advice ?
Be yourself, make the most of the here and now. You never know what is gonna happen in the future.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
Albrecht in Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s version of Giselle. I was really inspired by these two big ballet stars, how they work, how they approach their work and achieve what they are looking for!
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?
It was during our Cinderella season. I was the Prince and doing this big entrance solo at the beginning of Act 2. At the end of it I did a double tour and was supposed to finish in a big fourth position. But instead, I landed on my bum. And the audience thought it was meant to happen (according to Christopher Hampson’s comedic version) some people were laughing aloud, I thought that was very funny!
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?
I would create something really modern and simple! I like to really show the dancers’ body lines!
A phrase I use far too often is …
Who would play you in the film of your life ?
Only me I guess!
What is your favourite quote?
No pain, no gain.
What’s on your iPod ?
Audio books and ballet class music
Who would you most like to dance for, and why?
My parents! Because they will enjoy my dancing no matter what I do!
What makes you a good dance partner ?
My sense of responsibility.
Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about ?
Not really! I think the key for anyone to succeed in any profession is trying the hardest that you possibly can!
Describe yourself in just three words.
Kind, helpful and humble.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year ?
Anywhere as long as I was happy!
Who would you like to have a conversation with ?
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it ?
I think I would really like to be a teacher one day! I would like to pass on all the experience I’ve have had on stage. I have already started teaching a few classes once in a while at the RNZB and the New Zealand School of Dance. Just to build up my teaching skills slowly.
Huan is with the company in Los Angeles and will dance the role of Albrecht in Giselle, partnering Gillian Murphy, which opens in Los Angeles on 31 January.