Cupcakes & Conversation with Daniel Roberts, Artist, West Australian Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
Well class is usually at 10am at WAB so at 8am I’m usually sitting in my living room with a big coffee and looking forward to catching up on what everyone got up to on their weekend. I tend not to think about ballet until the first exercise at the barre.
If ballet chose you, as many dancers say it did, what is it that has made you stick with it?
I’m not sure if ballet DID chose me but I know that what I enjoy most about it is the constant challenges it forces me to face. There is always a new step to learn and perfect and new repertoire to rehearse.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?
I wouldn’t say that there is a particular individual that I would love to dance with. I just knew that I wanted to spend my career dancing with people that are motivated and excited by the prospect of creating and dancing an innovative work.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
I would love to dance somewhere that had a very mixed and international audience. Maybe somewhere like New York or London.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
I’m not someone who keeps a strict routine. I usually get to work between 8:30-9:00 to start my Pilates/warm up, then I basically follow the schedule till home time at 5:45. A good home made meal is what I look most forward to at the end of the day.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?
I try to keep my protein and carb levels up during the day so for breakfast tuna on toast or eggs, then at lunch I usually have leftovers from the night before which always include a huge protein meat like chicken or beef steak.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
Again, not so much of a routine guy. A good meal, a coffee, and a 20 minute nap can go a long way.
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2013?
Really looking forward to dancing Romeo in Youri Vamos’ version of Romeo and Juliet in June. Also looking forward to Onegin as this is a huge ‘get’ for our company.
How do you deal with the stresses of performing?
I used to think that I had to stay very quiet and solitary so that I could be fully focused before going on stage. I’ve realised lately that if I let myself relax, talk and laugh with the other dancers then I perform much better and also don’t end up being so hard on myself if something goes wrong.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
Nicole Kidman, Graham Norton, Robin Williams, David Letterman, Anderson Cooper, Jennifer Saunders.
What would surprise people about you?
I once tried stand up comedy. People laughed but I think that’s because most of the audience was made up of WAB dancers.
Who inspired you to dance?
The first performance I ever saw was The Hot Show Shuffle in Melbourne. This is when I started to realize that men could make a living out of being a dancer and that it wasn’t something that only girls could do.
How would someone else describe you?
I’ve heard people describe me as funny… but also as kind of scary. I guess it depends on how much sleep I’ve had the night before.
What is your best piece of advice?
To be realistic about your aspirations and to set both short and long term goals that you believe are achievable. Remember – THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN BALLET.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
Definitely Lutencio in Taming of the Shrew. This was a massive test of both my pas de deux skills and stamina.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
I played Frederich in The Sound of Music in Melbourne. In the roll call scene where each of the children steps forward and recited their name I yelled out “Kurt!”. Poor Maria must have been so confused.
A phrase I use far too often is…
“I’m tired.” Seriously Daniel? Get over it and do your push ups!
Who would play you in the film of your life?
I’d try and play everyone in the hope that that would get me an Oscar.
What is your favourite quote?
“These pretzels are making me thirsty.”
What’s on your iPod?
Anything and everything. I tend to collect music that inspires me choreographically. I also listen to Amy Winehouse and Elton John at least once a week. I like artists that are able to tell stories through their music.
Who would you most like to dance for, and why?
I would love to dance for a visionary like Jiri Kylian or Forsythe. To be in the studio with them and to be part of the process would be a very exciting experience.
What makes you a good dance partner?
Each partner is different so the best thing I can offer is a sensitivity to their needs, where their weight is and also being fully aware of their choreography as well as my own.
Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about?
I probably do… but there may be good reason as to why it’s a secret.
Describe yourself in just three words.
Funny, sensitive, ambitious.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year?
I’d like to be in a ballet company working hard and dancing exciting repertoire. I’d like to be in a culturally diverse city with enthusiastic local audiences.
Who would you like to have a conversation with?
I’d love to have a conversation with British talk show host Graham Norton. I read his autobiography recently and really admired his ambition and wit. He doesn’t take himself too seriously but has managed to create his own niche in the entertainment industry that is both innovative and engaging.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?
Well, I’m only 25 and I still feel like I’m still starting out. I hope to keep choreographing but there are a lot of other avenues I’d like to explore. Ask me again in 20 years.