Cupcakes & Conversation with Brendan Saye, Corps de Ballet, National Ballet of Canada

December 2, 2011

Cupcakes & Conversation

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Brendan Saye, Corps de Ballet, National Ballet of Canada

ballet dancer at the barre

Brendan Saye Photograph : Sian RIchards

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?

I’ve always found the beginning of a new day refreshing. It comes with a new set of opportunities and exciting new challenges but above all it allows you to better what you did the day before and apply what you’ve learned.

Why ballet?

I had a lot of energy as a kid and was always fascinated by the theatre. There was something about the sort of facade of it all, that it was all an illusion but yet it brought to life things I could only imagine before.

You’ve had a big debut in Romeo & Juliet.  How have you prepared?

In my first year in the Corps de Ballet, about two years ago, one of the Principal dancers here at The National Ballet of Canada said to me, “the only way to be a better dancer is to dance.” I agree. Although I do cross training and gym work, I’ve found the best way to prepare myself is to just do it over and over again. This also prepares me mentally because I then know I can get through it.

How does this preparation differ from your Corps de Ballet roles?

Well it’s far more challenging, technically speaking, than any Corps role I’ve done and the mental aspect of being comfortable alone onstage with a spotlight on you is an entirely different sensation. It’s also a matter of pacing yourself and learning how to properly spend your energy. It’s tough and I’m still learning. That’s not to say that my Corps roles haven’t come with their own set of challenges as well. You don’t want to be the weak link in a large group of people.

What are you most looking forward to during the performance?

I think the moment I look forward to would be my curtain call – knowing that I gave it my all, did my best and, assuming the performance goes well, that I can walk away proud of what I’ve accomplished.

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

There are so many incredible female dancers in this company and abroad that I would be privileged to dance with but, at this moment, The person I would most want to dance with is my partner in this ballet, Chelsy Meiss, as Juliet.

ballet dancer

Brendan Saye. Photograph : Sian Richards

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

Covent Garden.

What was your daily routine as you prepared for Romeo & Juliet?

When I’m not rehearsing, I try and keep a balance between rest and recovery and training and stabilizing the body with strengthening.

How will you prepare in the hours before the show?

Eat well, warm up well, focusing on the task at hand.

How do you deal with the stresses of performing & how do you think you will feel when the curtain comes down on Romeo & Juliet?

I guess I’ll know all that when it happens. I’ve never had this kind of responsibility onstage before so I’m not sure how exactly I will handle it. I should hope that all the hard work I’ve put in will pay off and that above all, I can trust myself so that  I can just enjoy my time onstage. [Ed note : this interview was conducted prior to Saye's debut but in the event it wasn't possible to publish beforehand. The performance went very well.]

Which role has tested you the most & how?

I’d have to say that the most challenging role I’ve received was the ballet man in Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room. I’ve never been so exhausted onstage before but it taught me a great deal about myself. I now know that even in those moments when I feel I can’t continue that I am able to push through and often surprise myself.

What’s on your iPod ?

I’m really into the Fleet Foxes at the moment. A fellow company member tipped me off about them and I’ve been hooked ever since.

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year?

As long as I keep getting confronted with new challenges and more opportunities to learn and become a stronger dancer, I’ll have nothing to complain about.

What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?

I think in our field it’s always smart to think ahead since our careers are short. I’ve already had the opportunity to take a university course to start building up credits in case my next career move would require post-secondary training. I have quite a passion for choreography and always have so that’s something I’m seriously considering. Outside of dance, I bake (mostly with secret family recipes and ones that I’ve perfected myself) and it seems to be catching on. Who knows!

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