Cupcakes & Conversation with Emily Grizzell, Soloist, Royal Winnipeg Ballet

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Emily Grizzell, Soloist, Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Emily Grizzell, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Soloist Photograph : Grajewski Fotograph Inc.What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?I always look forward to the ritual of morning class. If I’m organized and can get in to work early I like to do a quick workout in our small gym to get my blood flowing. It always feels so much better for my joints and muscles if I am already warmed up beforehand. Then I have the time in class to listen to the music and just focus on what I need for myself that day.Why ballet ? The simplest answer? I get to move my body to music for a living.What are you looking forward to dancing this year ? We are doing a new production, Svengali, by choreographer Mark Godden, whose Dracula has been a big hit for our company. I haven’t any idea yet what the production will be like, but I love to see what happens when dance mixes with great theatre. In the same vein, I look forward to re-visiting Wonderland, by Shawn Hounsell, which we will be performing on tour. Also, we are returning to Giselle, after a long hiatus, which is my favourite of the classics.Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?My husband Amar dances in the RWB with me, but we are never paired together. I would love to dance something made by Crystal Pite with him.If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?At the Gorge Amphitheatre, in George Washington, on the banks of the Columbia River.Emily Grizzell, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Soloist Photograph : David Cooper

How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?

Well, I wear Gaynor Minden pointe shoes now, and there isn’t a whole lot of prep required the way that there is with traditional shoes.  I do admit to putting them through the washing machine on occasion in order to get a few more wears in. (The downside to long lasting pointe shoes is the aroma.)

What is your daily routine at the moment ?

We just began our summer layoff period, so I am relaxing with my husband and daughter. I will do ballet class, yoga, and work with a personal trainer in order to stay in shape.  Since having my daughter Lucie, a year and a half ago, I have to work a lot harder at keeping fit than I used to. The upside is that I am enjoying all aspects of my life more than ever.  She really has helped me to focus my energy and be in the moment.

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?

My mom has a great recipe for homemade granola that I’m pretty addicted to. I tweak it a little every time I make it. Usually I will snack on a piece of fruit sometime in the early afternoon before lunch to keep my blood sugar up.  In the interest of saving time in the morning, I try to make enough for dinner the night before so that we have leftovers for lunch the next day. We really have our routine streamlined at home so we can maximize family time.

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?

Oh wow. Real or imaginary? Living or dead? Agnes deMille, Bjork, Frank Lloyd Wright, Katherine Hepburn, Willy Wonka and Marcel Dzama. I’m not sure what I would serve, but the conversation would be amazing.

What would surprise people about you ?

I am an absolute cheese fanatic.  Last summer I attended a three day cheese master class in New York at Artisinal which was taught by Max Mcallman.

Who inspired you to dance ?

I’m not sure that any one person inspired me to dance. I’m thankful that my family encouraged my creativity and imagination because that helped me to find an outlet for that in ballet.

dancer in pointe shoes wearing a black leotard stands on one foot with red flowing ribbons behind her

Emily Grizzell, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Soloist Photograph : David Cooper

What is your best piece of advice ?

This was courtesy of my mother.  She told me not to waste so much time tearing myself apart because there are plenty of other people to do that for me.  Whenever I find myself sinking into self-criticism I try to remind myself of that, but it’s a hard lesson to learn.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?

I like to have a little quiet time to myself before I start my hair and make-up.  I will start from a really low key place just to channel my energy.  If I need a boost when it gets close to curtain, I will put on a really upbeat song and have my own little dance party before I put my costume on. It helps me connect with that feeling of joy relating to movement and dissipates any nerves if I have them.

Which role has tested you the most & how ?

No surprises here, the role of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. I have never really considered myself a classical dancer, as much as I admire it in others, I always feel like I am going from pose to pose onstage instead of really dancing.  Throw in the title of Princess on top of that, along with all of the other trials and tribulations that go along with that role; I still get the chills thinking about it.  However, I had a great coach, who helped me to find a real person inside of that princess. I came away from the process feeling like I had climbed my own Mount Everest.

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?

Something that would let me feel the air moving across my skin when I danced.

What do you look for in a dance partner ?

Eye Contact!

What is your favourite quote ?

I’ve never been one for quotes.

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?

People say I have nice fouettes. I haven’t ever seen them myself, so I’m not really sure what the means. Other than that, I am happiest and most confident when I am jumping.

dancer stands on pointe looking through a door

Emily Grizzell, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Soloist Photograph : Clive JonesA phrase I use far too often is ... ?Where are my hairpins? What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?Oh gosh, there have been so many special moments…The most recent I can think of is that amazing feeling that I had during the last movement of Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room. Feeling so tired and energized at the same time, and watching my friends onstage giving all their energy, and feeling like we were all feeding it back to each other. I still get tingly in my spine just thinking about it. Knowing that others are sharing your experience onstage with you is such a gift. I feel very lucky to have experienced that multiple times onstage.Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?I am really good at cleaning bathrooms.In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?I hope that I still feel like I am contributing to the company and bringing something special to the stage.Emily Grizzell, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Soloist Photograph : Guillermo Galindo


If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?

I wish that I could dance for my Grandfather Ray and my Uncle Sam.  They both passed away before they saw me dance professionally.

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3 Responses to “Cupcakes & Conversation with Emily Grizzell, Soloist, Royal Winnipeg Ballet”

  1. Couture Carrie Says:

    Fabulous post!
    Love her dinner guests, especially Frank Lloyd Wright!


  2. Rachel @ Inspiration in Italy Says:

    “I get to move my body to music for a living.” Sounds like a fantastic life…. sigh! xo

  3. Val Says:

    Beautiful photos. Homemade granola is one of my favorite things to make. There are so many ingredients to play with! ~Val