Cupcakes & Conversation with Jade Heusen, Artist, Birmingham Royal Ballet
Fresh on the heels of yesterday’s BBC broadcast of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella, (which is repeated tonight on BBC4 at 7pm and is available for a short time on iPlayer) Jade Heusen, who you might have seen on stage and during the backstage clips, talks to Ballet NEWS about her ballet life.
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
My dreams. (This is due to the fact that I am usually still asleep!)
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2011?
I am honestly looking forward to all the rep next year, some new; some not, but I am particularly excited about David Bintley’s Carmina Burana at the end of the season and Cinderella.
Who would you most like to dance with and what would you dance?
There are many dancers in Birmingham Royal Ballet whom I’d love to dance with but I’d love the opportunity to perform opposite Robert Parker in something very emotive, as his acting is so amazing and it would feel great to be part of the intensity his presence brings to the stage. I would also love to dance with Carlos Acosta somewhere down the line but I fear there may be quite a waiting list for that one!
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
I’d love to perform in a massive concert venue or arena in front of thousands of people, just to experience that enormous buzz of such a great crowd! As a more far fetched dream, I’d love to perform outside; somewhere warm and near (or even on!) the water. I live by the sea and it’s one of the main things I miss when I’m away from home. I love it out there, so free and inspiring.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
I am still learning the various ‘tricks of the trade’ and new pointe shoe preparation techniques, but my general regime is: shave the sole. Hammer the base of the block to reduce the noise. Do some manual mobilising to help find the demi pointe at the front of the shoe and the bend for the full pointe. I also tend to shellac them to prolong the life of the shoe and for emergency hardening, jet glue is brilliant.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
Dependant on whether it is a performance or rehearsal week, the schedule differs and even then it is rarely the same every day. So just about the only thing ‘routine’ in my daily life at the moment is skincare!
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
All six main cast members from Friends as their characters! So I guess it would have to be a thanksgiving dinner!
What would surprise people about you?
A favourite pastime of mine is body boarding. I love sport and although I’ve not played it, I enjoy watching rugby. I play the flute and love singing, acting and musicals.
What is your best piece of advice?
Surround yourself with positivity; negativity rubs off like wet paint.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
I haven’t found a strict routine as it tends to change depending on the piece we’re performing but without fail, even for the shortest role, I will mentally run through everything before curtain up. I remember as a student working with the company, even up to the final performance of a six-week Swan Lake tour, I would go through the entire thing four times before the start! I have certainly calmed down since then but I do have a conscientious mind that won’t let me ever get complacent.
Which role has tested you the most and how?
Oddly, not one which I actually performed but one of the two stomper girls in In the Upper Room proved to be a great challenge and one which would be so rewarding to dance.
What do you look for in a dance partner?
Handsome face, Bulging Biceps and great Hair! Ok, kidding but what a bonus!
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
One that takes me to the nearest Starbucks! Haha!
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
There are far too many to list. That’s not the phrase, by the way.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?
I have a knack for finding really appropriate comedy cards for people, for no apparent reason! My friends tell me it’s a special skill but I’m not sure I’ll be entering Britain’s Got Talent with it anytime soon!
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
I would love to have the opportunity to perform a solo and/or a role which shows my dance quality or acting ability.