Cupcakes & Conversation with Amy Harris, Soloist, The Australian Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
Peanut butter and honey toast and a cup of tea.
I found a passion for it when I was young and it was something I felt like I could actually do and do well, so I went with it. I also love the fact that it challenges me every single day mentally and physically. Each day brings something different and you are continually learning. The satisfaction at the end of a day or a show is something that leaves me on a high and keeps me inspired and yearning for more.
What are you looking forward to dancing this year?
I’m really excited to be working with Kevin Jackson for his Bodytorque piece this year (Bodytorque is The Australian Ballet’s series that promotes emerging choreographers). We’ve started on some rehearsals and I am absolutely loving it. I’m also looking forward to After the Rain in our British Liaisons season.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?
Traditional Swan Lake, Any takers?
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
Too hard to choose! There are so many amazing theatres and venues around the world and I haven’t even seen half of them let alone am able to pick which one I would dance on!
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
To be honest I do very little to my shoes before putting them on.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
Up at 8am to get ready and head into work for an 11am class. Then from 12.30pm until 3pm we rehearse for our upcoming season which at the moment is British Liaisons, a triple bill with After The Rain, Checkmate and Concerto. After rehearsal I have a break until the evening show and I normally head into the theatre at about 5pm for this show, Madame Butterfly, and get ready to start the show at 7.30pm. I finish around 8.15pm as I am only in Act One, then home to have some dinner, a shower and get to bed about 11pm or even midnight.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
Natalie Portman, Kings of Leon, Marianela Nuñez, Alexa Chung, Annie Leibovitz and John Cleese because he’s the one person in the world that my boyfriend would love to meet!
What would surprise people about you?
People always say how different I am onstage to off stage.
Who inspired you to dance?
There are too many people to name that have inspired me to follow my dreams of becoming a ballerina. I wouldn’t know where to begin!
What is your best piece of advice?
Never let anyone take that fire in your belly away!
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
I’m a little OCD in the way that whatever I do for dress rehearsal day I have to stick with for the whole of that season. So normally I like to get back to the theatre with plenty of time to have a shower, put my make-up on, do my hair and head up to the evening barre. Then I head back to the change room to hop into costume, put my shoes on and some final touches on my make-up and one last spray of hairspray. Before leaving the change room the last thing I do is spray my perfume and have a mint and then it’s back up to the rehearsal room to go over what I am doing on stage that night.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
Right now I’ve just started learning the principal girl in the 3rd Movement of Concerto and wow, I have a lot of work ahead of me! It’s not really me because it’s fast moving and it has some awkward turns in it so right now I am thinking ‘how am I going to be able to do this?!’
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
Something really comfortable and easy to move in.
What do you look for in a dance partner?
Precision and I think also with just the small amount of partnering I have done you need to have good communication with each other.
What is your favourite quote?
One of my favourite quotes is from Sylvia Plath : “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
I do like developpe ecarte… when it’s on my good leg!
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
I have no idea (I even asked my boyfriend and he had nothing – I thought he might have a list!)
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?
Opening night of The Sleeping Beauty in Melbourne. I performed my very first principal role as Carabosse. The feeling I got on this night was something I hadn’t felt in a number of years and it was so nice to have it back. I love being challenged and the satisfaction you get after you walk off stage is a feeling I just love!
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?
Boring I know but I don’t think I actually do.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
Continuing on the path I am now. Experiencing all of the wonderful opportunities and roles I am getting and still absolutely loving what I am doing.
If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?
My beloved Nan. Along with my Mum she was my number one fan and never missed an opportunity to come and see me perform in every season we did in Melbourne. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 2006 and I guess since then I feel like I have achieved so much in my career. She was so special and still is – she was also one of the people that I wanted to share every special moment with and I loved walking out of a show seeing her and my mum standing there with proud smiles across their faces.