Cupcakes & Conversation with Lana Jones, Principal, The Australian Ballet
In November last year Lana was promoted to Principal dancer.
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
Why ballet ?
It’s forever challenging and exposes me to incredible experiences.
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2011 ?
Our new production of Romeo and Juliet and also a classic – The Merry Widow.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
At the moment I would love to dance Manon with my husband Daniel Gaudiello (also a principal in the company) and I would love to dance Don Quioxte with Nureyev!
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
In Verona, Italy in their outdoor theatre. Truly magical and such beautiful surroundings.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
Firstly I bend them with my hands to see which way they are inclined – right or left. Next I sew ribbons and elastics on my pointe shoes, cut out some of my sole, stand on them to flatten the top, put lamb’s wool inside and then I’m ready to break them in during class. And if they’re loud I’ll use a hammer to make them quieter. Sometimes I shave the sole for more stability.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I’m performing The Nutcracker at the moment so my day consists of getting up at 9am to have breakfast then leaving for the theatre. Class is at 11am, followed by Pilates and rehearsals till 3pm. I get a break till 5.30pm, where I have lunch, walk the dogs and at the moment fit in some Christmas shopping then back to the theatre. I prepare for the show by doing my hair and make-up and warm up barre at 6.30pm. Then at 7:30pm the curtain goes up and the performance is underway. The curtain comes down around 9.45pm; then I’m off home to have dinner and wind down, ready to start it all over again tomorrow!
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Marilyn Monroe, Antonio Banderas, Hugh Jackman, Princess Diana, Nadia Comaneci, Margot Fonteyn.
What would surprise people about you ?
I was a keen rollerskater when I was younger.
Who inspired you to dance ?
I have been dancing since I was 3 so I guess dance inspired me. As for now, it’s my peers and the dancers who dance with passion, artistry, technique and soul.
What is your best piece of advice ?
Have confidence to be yourself – don’t try to be anyone else.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I like to play it all down, to stay real and grounded, walk the dogs, watch TV, read a magazine, catching up on computer stuff – the normal things in life! Once I’m on my way to the theatre I’m in focus mode.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
The Marschallin from The Silver Rose. It was an artistic challenge. I played an older, more mature woman which meant I had to really think about how I moved and reacted. My character was a movie star but also very insecure. It was a hard process to find the character but a huge learning curve and very fulfilling. Dancing, acting and feeling all of the emotion from the story was very addictive.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
What do you look for in a dance partner ?
Chemistry, a respect for each other, similar musicality and a good work ethic.
What is your favourite quote ?
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
“Hurry up Daniel”! (to my husband)
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
When I danced Kitri from Don Quixote (2007); my first full length ballet. I realised this is what I had dreamed of and my family were there to see it.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
No, if I’m good at anything I usually tell everyone.
You’ve reached the pinnacle of your profession – what does your recent promotion to Principal mean to you and how will it change your daily working life ?
It still amazes me that I’m a principal! I am by no means the dancer I want to be so the drive to be a better dancer and artist is still as strong as ever. It will be great to focus on and develop the one role…and I’m excited I get a free car park!