Cupcakes & Conversation with Bronte Kelly, Royal New Zealand Ballet
From Queensland, Australia, Bronte started dancing at the age of four and went on to train at The Australian Ballet School. She joined Royal New Zealand Ballet at the start of 2011 and recent highlights include appearing in Balanchine’s Who Cares?, performing the title role in the RNZB’s Cinderella and being part of Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s Giselle.
She is currently on the RNZB’s US tour and will dance in Benjamin Millepied’s 28 Variations on a Theme by Paganini which is part of the Mixed Bill the company is performing at The Joyce Theatre in New York from 12-16 February.
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
Every day as a dancer is different. There is always something to work on and improve on. Every Monday I look forward to a new start with new goals.
If ballet chose you, as many dancers say it did, what is it that has made you stick with it?
I enjoy ballets challenges; it brings out your inner strength when things get hard. Being on stage and entertaining is the biggest reward. There is nothing like taking a room full of people on a make-believe journey with you.
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2014 & what are the big challenges likely to be for you?
I am very excited about 2014 as each season will bring new challenges and exciting things for NZ audiences. I have never done an international tour so America will be amazing! I must admit I have a soft spot for the ballet Coppelia, which we are performing when we get back from the US; it’s a beautiful Classic that everyone should see at least once.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?
I think every girl wants the chance to dance with a real ballerina, and I am lucky enough to say I already have a will again this year when I dance beside Gillian Murphy in 28 Variations.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
I think it would be amazing to perform in Covent Garden where some of the world’s best ballet dancers have performed.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
I sew the ribbons and elastics on, then I cut out half the sole of the shoes to hug my arch, I also wet the top so it moulds to my foot better.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
When we’re in rehearsal mode I get to work at 8:30am for an hour warm up. Then we have class, then 15 min break into a 1 ½ hour rehearsal, then lunch for an hour, then a 2 hour rehearsal, then 15min break, then a 1½ hour rehearsal to finish. Sometimes we are not all needed for rehearsal so we do other things like go to the gym or do Pilates.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?
Food! I snack during the day (fruit and muesli bars) between rehearsals then at lunch I have a big meal. This helps me keep focused and strong during the day of hard work.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
I don’t know enough famous people but if I had to choose I would pick 6 famous comedians because I love to laugh.
What would surprise people about you?
I left home when I was 14 ( I moved to Melbourne to go to the Australian Ballet School).
Who inspired you to dance?
My Primary school teacher (I was very shy at school and my teacher told my mum to put me in ballet class to help me express myself).
What is your best piece of advice?
Don’t try to be someone else and follow their story – make your own.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
I have a good meal, take time doing my hair and makeup to get into character and listen to music.
How do you deal with the stress of performing?
I try to see nerves as a good thing that will help rather than hinder my show. I also have to trust the hard work leading up to the show will get me through and it’s time to just have fun.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
Cinderella, my first lead role. It tested me in every way possible. When you lead a ballet you don’t just want to dance well for you but for the beautiful hard working dancers around you. The last thing you want to do is let them down; you have to act confidently because if you don’t believe you can do it no one else will.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
I think a long dress, something elegant that the dancer would feel beautiful and confident in.
What do you look for in a dance partner?
Hard working, fun and strong. You want to have fun with them so you have a good relationship with them on and off the stage that creates the chemistry.
What is your favourite quote?
“No one can pull you up very high, you lose grip on the rope, but on your own two feet you can climb mountains”
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
Haha No! None of them came naturally but putting them all together seems to work.
A phrase I use far too often is… ?
“Smile and wave boys, just smile and wave.”
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?
Dancing Don Quixote Pas de Deux on opening night. I had so much fun and the support from the audience is something I will never forget.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?
I’m a good cookie baker.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
Hopefully entertaining NZ audiences.
Who would you like to have a conversation with?
I can’t think of a particular person… however I would like to talk to anyone that has competed in the Olympics – the determination, training and self discovery they have to go through really interests me.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?
Exit strategy? I’m 21 years old so hopefully I won’t have to think about that for a while! However, I have always wanted to teach ballet and after years of trying to understand it and work out how to do things I would feel it would be a waste to not pass that on.