Cupcakes & Conversation with Keian Langdon, Principal, Queensland Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
A strong espresso coffee always gets me going. I think about what the day and week will bring. It’s exciting to know that the work I put in each day will help me improve as a dancer and an artist.
Growing up I imagined myself as a commercial dancer or working in musical theatre, and ballet was just something I did for my technique. But I began to love the physicality and beauty of classical ballet and have never looked back.
Who would you most like to dance with and what would you dance?
Rooster by Christopher Bruce. The movement, set to Rolling Stones music looks really dynamic and fun. Jiří Kylián’s’ Gods & Dogs would also be a wonderful challenge. I’d be happy to dance either of these works with whoever wanted to join me.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
The floating stage in Bregenz, Austria would be amazing, with Lake Constance and the Alps in the background.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
I don’t really have a daily routine. Some days I get up early, around 7:30am, have breakfast and then ride to Pilates or yoga before a full day of class and rehearsals from 10am – 6pm. If it’s a performance day then I usually start the day at 1pm, which leaves the morning to get other things done, like shopping or housework or just relaxing.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?
Muesli or toast and a coffee for breakfast; fruit after morning class; a sandwich or wrap for lunch; and fish or meat with vegetables for dinner.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
I like to have a short sleep, have something to eat, and relax as much as possible by listening to music as I warm up and get ready for the performance.
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2012?
I’m looking forward to dancing in François Klaus’s Cloudland on a regional tour through Queensland in June and July. I love this ballet because the story is fun and light-hearted, and the choreography includes many genres of dance.
How do you deal with the stresses of performing?
I try to get plenty of sleep and eat well during a season. If I’m really nervous before a show I remind myself that each performance is different and none of them are perfect, so just relax and enjoy the experience.
You can ask six famous people to dinner-who would you invite?
Frank Woodly, Anthony Hopkins, Noel Fielding, Jennifer Saunders, Julia Davis, and Tim Winton.
What would surprise people about you?
I grew up in a town of 500 people in rural New South Wales and lived there until I was 16.
Who inspired you to dance?
When I was younger it was my first dance teacher and seeing Mikhail Baryshnikov perform when I was 10. Now I’m inspired each day by my fellow dancers.
How would someone else describe you?
Friendly, hard working and honest.
What is your best piece of advice?
Focus on your goals and work hard towards them without comparing yourself to others.
Which role has tested you the most and how?
Dancing the role of Don Jose in François Klaus’s Carmen was physically and emotionally exhausting. It really tested my endurance. Performing the role of Stanley Kowalski in Klaus’s A Streetcar Named Desire was an artistic challenge. The character had to be vulgar, brutish and really confident – a real man’s man.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
When I was getting a massage once the masseuse found a squished up M&M on the bottom of my foot!
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create?
Costume design probably isn’t my forte! But if I was to create a costume for a contemporary ballet, I would design something light and easy to move in.
A Phrase I use far too often is?
“Which studio are we in?” usually because I forget to check the schedule.
Who would play you in a film of your life?
An actor who can dance or, maybe a dancer who can act. I don’t know, but it would be a pretty uneventful movie!
What’s on your iPod?
It’s a bit of a mixed bag, including some MJ, Prince, Cut Copy and Daft Punk. I also have a lot of classical music. Recently I’ve been enjoying artists like M83, Gotye, and James Blake.
What is your favourite quote?
“Never mistake motion for action”- Ernest Hemmingway.
What makes you a good dance partner?
I don’t get frustrated when something doesn’t work straight away. I’m respectful of my dance partners and try to understand their workload and how they are feeling. Having a good rapport with my partner off stage and in rehearsals is important because it comes across onstage.
Do you have a secret skill, which no one knows about?
I make a really good Sicilian ricotta baked cheesecake, but I share it around so it’s not really a secret.
Describe yourself in just three words?
Optimistic, wilful and adventurous.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year?
Fit and healthy, continuing to learn and improve with each opportunity I am given.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?
I don’t have an exit strategy as yet. It’s difficult to plan for something, which I hope is still a long way off. I’m excited about the possibilities of life after dancing and all the new things I can learn.