Cupcakes & Conversation with Brooke Widdison-Jacobs, Artist, West Australian Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
Well, to be honest, I do need my coffee in the morning but as soon as that kicks in I am excited to start the week. You never know what kind of rehearsals you will have and no week is ever the same.
If ballet chose you, as many dancers say it did, what is it that has made you stick with it?
The constant drive for perfection and the feeling of achievement when you reach your goal. Ballet brings movement, meaning and music together and makes me feel complete, I don’t feel that with anything else.
What are you looking forward to dancing during 2013 & what are the big challenges likely to be for you?
I have just started working on the role of La Sylphide with Dinna Bjorn. There are many challenges that I am looking forward to with this role but I think the greatest challenge will be to respect the history and tradition of this 1800’s romantic ballet and to bring this across in the portrayal of my character.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?
Adam Bull, principal artist with The Australian Ballet. Adam and I were partners at The Australian Ballet School, it would be a lot of fun to dance together again after almost 12 years. As for what we would dance… anything with a bit of humour in it.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
I would love to bring the magic of ballet to children in Africa. Too many children have so little and it would be wonderful to share and give those less fortunate an experience they will never forget. I’m sure I would never forget it too.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
I am pretty lucky with my shoes, all I have to do is sew the ribbons and elastic, bend the shank a bit at the ¾ point and they’re ready to go.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
I always start the day with 30 mins on the reformer followed by some core and back strengthening exercises before class begins at 10am. I find that this really sets me up for whatever the days rehearsals might bring.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?
I start the day with a good breakfast and I try to eat lots of small snacks throughout the day to keep my energy levels up.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
Nicole Kidman, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Morgan Freeman, Norman Doidge MD, Adele. Although the combination might not work too well.
What would surprise people about you?
I love camping, hiking and fishing! I guess there is still a country girl inside me somewhere.
Who inspired you to dance?
Not who, but more what inspired me to dance. The dream of travelling the world doing something that I love!
What is your best piece of advice?
Anything is possible if you want it enough.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
I eat a good meal and spend some time resting before being quite methodical in my preparations. First hair, makeup, warm-up barre, I go over a few steps, then costume and I am ready to go.
How do you deal with the stress of performing?
Deep breaths! I remind myself that this is what it’s all about. You owe it to yourself to be able to enjoy every minute of it.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
Dying Swan! There is quite an art in being able to die as a swan on stage in a 2 minute solo.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
Something that is comfortable for the dancers and doesn’t inhibit the movement. I like to be able to see the natural lines of the body and not see just a costume running around on stage but the beauty of the dancers inside.
What do you look for in a dance partner?
Someone who is prepared to put in the hard work. It’s so important to work with someone who meets you halfway and shares the responsibility with you.
What is your favourite quote?
The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are – C. G. Jung
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
I don’t think anything in ballet is particularly natural but I guess my feet would be my signature attribute, so anything with a stretched leg and a beautifully pointed foot on the end.
A phrase I use far too often is…?
“I love you” to my husband, but I think he doesn’t mind!
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?
Dancing In the middle somewhat elevated with the Royal Ballet of Flanders in New York alongside a cast of my best and closest friends. The feeling of how far we had all come together was unforgettable.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?
I can wiggle my ears without using my hands.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
As happy and fulfilled as I am now, working towards something that allows me to put a piece of myself into it and also allows me to discover a new part of who I am.
Who would you like to have a conversation with?
Norman Doidge MD, author of The Brain that Changes Itself. A man working on the frontier of brain science, just incredible.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?
I really like to help people and enjoy working with children so Speech Pathology became something that I am very interested in. It is so important to have direction and to find something you are passionate about after ballet. I don’t think anything will ever compare to a career as a dancer but you can certainly find things that inspire you.