Cupcakes & Conversation with Alexander Campbell, Soloist, The Royal Ballet

August 7, 2011

Cupcakes & Conversation

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Alexander Campbell, Soloist, The Royal Ballet

Alexander Campbell has until recently danced with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and I’ve often noted his dancing in my reviews. It’s great news that he has been offered a soloist contract with The Royal Ballet and you can see him dancing with the company from the new season which begins shortly.

ballet dancer in the studio

Alexander Campbell Photograph Andrew Ross

Congratulations on your Soloist contract with The Royal Ballet.  How did it come about ?

I was looking for a new challenge at the time and what better test is there than throwing yourself into a room full of world class dancers? Following discussions with the director, Monica Mason, and a few things falling into place, I was offered a contract.

Is the transition from Birmingham to London life going to be an easy one – as an Australian do you consider England home now ?

While it will be difficult to leave friends, I am hoping that the transition will be relatively simple and straightforward. I know London from my time at The Royal Ballet School and I am looking forward to being in the thick of things again. Australia will always be home but I certainly have a great fondness for England and consider it as my second home. 

What do you know of The Royal Ballet company ?

I know that it is a famous company with wonderful history and a fantastic following. 

ballet dancer jumping on stage 

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?

If it isn’t the repertoire that I’m rehearsing or performing then it’s the desire to always improve. 

Why ballet ?

I love the performance side of things. The adrenaline that comes with being onstage, the chance to throw yourself into a challenging character. 

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?

There are a number of wonderfully talented dancers in The Royal Ballet whom I would be delighted to have the opportunity to work with. I’m not going to alienate myself by trying to name names!

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?

One of the things I get most excited about when I think about making this move is the opportunity to perform on the Royal Opera House stage. I had the great pleasure of performing at the Sydney Opera House with The Australian Ballet last year and as it’s my home town that was a very special moment. I’d definitely like to do that again. 

What is your daily routine at the moment ? 

Holidays! I’ve been trying to get back into shape the last couple of days by doing class in the morning and then I’ve been lumbered with the task of helping my Dad buy a new car. I haven’t minded the last couple of days so much, BMW and Audi were on the list!

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ? 

I try to eat reasonably healthily; pasta, rice, fruit and vegetables. 

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?

I like to take my time before a show. One thing I like to do is have a shower before putting make up on and getting the costume on. 

What are you looking forward to dancing with The Royal Ballet – any coveted roles in their rep?

There are plenty of roles that I hope to get the chance to try but artistically the challenge of Crown Prince Rudolf in Mayerling is hugely appealing. Technically, as a great fan of Baryshnikov’s, Rhapsody would be another one I’d love to perform. 

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?

Mikhail Baryshnikov, Christian Bale (I’m a huge Batman fan), January Jones, Rose Byrne (who apparently grew up only a few minutes away from me in Sydney) and Emma Watson. I’ll leave it there, I’m hoping that I’m allowed to attend this dinner? Three women, three men and no need for a round table to accommodate the seventh person!

What would surprise people about you ?

I have a mild to moderate hearing loss. About 20% below average for my age apparently. Funnily it’s never really been an issue. For me anyway!

Who inspired you to dance ?

I had videos of Baryshnikov when I was younger and that was certainly a massive inspiration. 

How would someone else describe you ?

I think people would say I’m fairly down to earth. 

What is your best piece of advice ?

Try to keep your focus on the things you can control rather than the things you can’t.

ballet dancer on stage in costume

Alexander Campbell as Eros

Which role has tested you the most & how ?

I had to perform Petroushka and Michael Corder’s brand new Le Baiser de la Fee in one evening and together they were a huge challenge. Being doubled over, pigeon toed and heavily made up as Petroushka was a test in itself but then having 20 minutes to get changed, showered and ready for the fresh faced Young Man in Baiser, which was completely classical and possibly one of the toughest things I’ve done stamina wise, was another level of testing! It was extremely rewarding though and possibly one of my favourite times in the company. 

 What is your favourite quote?

‘One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed.’ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

What’s on your iPod ?

A mixture of things, I’ve recently rediscovered Silverchair and have been listening to that quite a bit. 

What makes you a good dance partner ?

I’d like to think I’m considerate and sensitive to my partner’s needs. 

Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about ?

I was a decent cricketer when I was younger! But I tell almost everyone I meet so it’s not really that much of a secret. 

Describe yourself in just three words.

Ambitious, focused, entertaining.

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?

I really enjoyed having the chance to perform in Sydney last year where a lot of my family were able to attend, some of whom had never seen me perform before. That was a very special feeling. 

In terms of your ballet career, having danced with Birmingham Royal Ballet and now The Royal Ballet, what are your ambitions or have they been fulfilled now?

Upon joining The Royal Ballet one of my ambitions will certainly have been fulfilled but I feel I have plenty more to achieve in my career. My hope is that this is just the beginning.

 

Listen to Silverchair

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Watch Mayerling

Listen to Petroushka

Watch Mikhail Baryshnikov

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8 Responses to “Cupcakes & Conversation with Alexander Campbell, Soloist, The Royal Ballet”

  1. May Says:

    Sounds like a very exciting talent to watch next season at Covent Garden! As for the test drives…..I hope they tried out some Ferraris and Aston Martins “just for comparison”!!!

  2. Jennifer Rowe Says:

    Alex Campbell is a phenomenal dancer and whilst the Royal has gained a fantastic dancer who can be relied on to perform regardless of the circumstances (I have seen him dance two roles which he has had to learn on very short notice and in both he has been as good, if not better, than dancers who have had the full rehearsal time), I cannot help but feel he may have thrown away a chance to leave an indelible mark in ballet history.
    Alex dances in an incredibly “English” style making him brilliant at narrative ballet and his acting is superb, I was privileged enough to see him dance his first Romeo in Birmingham and would have thought he had danced the role countless times before, he was that assured in the choreography and the emotion he demonstrated was entirely believable. As such a dancer he has attracted the attention of David Bintley who has before referred to Alex as “the boy wonder” and when choreographing the critically acclaimed E=MCsquared (no superscript!) Alex was the logical choice for the celeritas section of the ballet.
    The thing is that Alex’s style is ideally suited to David’s choreography and as Robert Parker, one of David’s favourite dancers, is getting on (for a dancer! He has already retired once after all) Alex would be the logical choice to assume the crown of principal male for the company and the subject of a significant amount of David’s choreography.
    My one concern therefore is that he may throw away the chance of creating a number of roles with one of Britain’s foremost choreographers for a chance to dance at the Opera House. I can understand the draw of the Opera House, especially as at 24 he is still very young but the issue is that Alex has had an incredible chance to dance principal roles for years with BRB and David is very pro giving all his dancers chances to dance to the level of their capabilities. The Royal is not so pro-active and incredibly hierarchical resulting in the defection of Natasha Oughtred up the M40 and to be blunt, I think Alex could spend a year or more of his time, hanging around waiting for someone to notice. And when your career is as short as a dancers is then a year or two could be a significant period of time.
    I have told Alex this (I think my exact phrase was “have you lost your tiny little mind?” but I do hope that the Royal appreciate the dancer they have and don’t stick rigidly to the classification of his new rank, giving him the opportunities that a dancer of his calibre deserves. If not then Alex, get your butt back to Birmingham! And please, please, please, please let us all know in Birmingham when you are performing as if I have to pay the obscene ticket prices charged by the Royal and you’re not dancing I will be exceedingly upset!
    I wish him all the best and hope to see him back in Birmingham, either as a guest or permanently, soon.

  3. Ballet News Says:

    @May thank you

    @Jennifer thank you. Dancers have so little control over their short careers and I think it’s admirable that Alexander has been pro-active in seeking out the challenges that he needs. He’s a great dancer already and I’m sure a loss to BRB but I can only imagine how much this move will inspire him to even greater things. However, I guess every ballet company would say that no dancer is bigger than the company – which is why they have to move around to make the most of their dancing career if necessary. And the RB will have a new artistic head next year, which will be an interesting time for everyone.

  4. Val Says:

    Congratulations to Alexander. Great interview and photos! I did not realize January Jones was known across the pond. She is one of my favorites in Mad Men! ~Val

  5. Couture Carrie Says:

    Fabulous interview and pics!
    Love his advice!

    xoxox,
    CC

  6. Audrey Allure Says:

    Great interview!

  7. Alexander Says:

    Just letting people know that I’ve started up a twitter account; ACampbell_RB. I will use it to update my family and friends of how the move down to London is going and also to let people know when I might be performing! I will end this by saying I’m not familiar with Twitter at all so bear with me!

  8. MrZee Says:

    Belated congratulations to you on joining the Royal Ballet. Although we live in the U.S., we have actually seen (and enjoyed) your BRB dancing on several occasions over the past few years. We travel to London to see the RB regularly and hope that we will be able to watch you perform in the coming season. Thanks for starting your twitter account . . . we are keeping our fingers crossed that Dame Monica has casted up opposite Akane in her Nutcrackers!!!