Cupcakes & Conversation with Laura Davenport, Artist, Birmingham Royal Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
I’m quite a morning person and tend to wake up naturally before my alarm goes off so I don’t find it too hard to get going. However a good breakfast and a big cup of tea certainly helps, along with the thought of what the day ahead may have in store.
What are you looking forward to dancing in the new season?
We are opening the season with Concerto, which I’m really looking forward to. This was the first ballet I danced when I joined BRB two years ago and I can’t wait to perform it again. I’m also very excited about David Bintley’s new production of Cinderella this winter. Rehearsals are already well underway; it’s a great privilege to be involved in the creation process and I can see it’s going to be great to dance in.
Who would you most like to dance with and what would you dance?
That’s a tricky one – the role of Lise is one that really appeals to me. When it comes to who with there are so many male dancers whom I greatly admire and who I’m sure would make amazing partners. If I were to name just one it would have to be Carlos Acosta; such a charismatic dancer and reading his autobiography confirmed just what a humble person he is.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre) where would you dance?
I’ve always wanted to dance in an open air theatre; it must be such a liberating feeling. I also loved performing in Japan and can’t wait for our next tour there this season. The audiences there were so welcoming and the theatres are just phenomenal!
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
First of all I sew ribbons and heel elastics on each shoe. Next I squash the front by standing on it, bend the backs and shave the sole using a Stanley knife to make it flatter. Preparing shoes is the bane of many dancers’ lives but once you have your own routine it doesn’t take too long!
What is your daily routine at the moment? We are currently rehearsing for the first performances of the new season. I normally get to work for about 9am to do some Pilates and warm up before class at 10.30am. Rehearsals run from 12 to 6.30pm and vary in length and time each day. Of course our routine is different when we are performing or on tour.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
Princess Diana, Mother Teresa (if they were still alive…), Michael McIntyre, Jude Law, Sylvie Guillem and Jamie Oliver (to cook the dinner!)
What would surprise people about you?
I’m a bit of an obsessive planner and always have to have something to do – I get bored easily and am not much good at sitting around chilling out!
Who inspired you to dance?
The first ballets I ever saw at the theatre were various productions by Northern Ballet. I remember being really inspired at the time even though I was quite young. I’ve also had a couple of very special teachers along the way from whom I have gained a lot of inspiration and passion for dance.
What is your best piece of advice?
Really work for what you want – it is true that you get out of life what you put in.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
I always like to try and get out for a bit of fresh air; it’s amazing how refreshing even just ten minutes can be after being cooped up in the theatre all day! I then have something light to eat, do my hair and make up, warm up and get to the stage early in order to go through the steps.
Which role has tested you the most and how?
Whilst still a student, I performed with the company in Concerto Barocco. Stamina-wise it is an absolute killer and as a student I was thrown into numerous different places, often at very short notice. The concentration needed for that, along with the technical difficulty of the piece, made for a real challenge! It is a very rewarding piece though.
If you were asked to design your own costume what would you create?
Something that is comfortable and doesn’t restrict your movement. I love Juliet-style dresses with a long flowing skirt.
What do you look for in a dance partner?
It is crucial to have 100% trust in a partner, as well as knowing that you can communicate with each other through your movement whilst on stage. There’s nothing more exciting than watching a partnership with a real chemistry between the two dancers.
What is your favourite quote?
‘Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.’ – cheesy but true!
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
I love jumping and it is certainly the thing that comes most naturally to me in class.
A phrase I use far too often is?
I think I drive my family mad with my overuse of the phrase ‘So, what’s the plan for tomorrow?’ Like I said earlier, I always like to know that there is something going on!
What has been your best on stage moment so far?
It’s really hard to choose one best moment as I get a buzz every time I go on stage. I guess my first ever performance with BRB is way up there though, finally dancing as a professional after all those years of training.
In terms of your career where would you like to be in a year from now?
Still enjoying myself as much as I am now and being able to dance injury-free (touch wood!). I also have many goals and ambitions outside of dance that I want to fulfil, be that in the next year or next fifty years!