Cupcakes & Conversation with Max Westwell, Soloist, Birmingham Royal Ballet

November 24, 2011

Cupcakes & Conversation

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Max Westwell, Soloist, Birmingham Royal Ballet

dancer at the barre

Max Westwell Photograph : BBC/Tiger Aspect Productions

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?

Not a lot! But by 8.30am the challenge to improve, learn new skills and be part of something exciting is good motivation.

Why ballet?

Because it’s a beautiful way of portraying emotion.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?

I think Lauren Cuthbertson [Ed note : Principal dancer from the Royal Ballet]. I would dance anything with a good story.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?

I would love to go back to the Herod’s Atticus Theatre in Greece. It’s an open air amphitheatre which is just amazing. Or New York!

What is your daily routine at the moment?

I don’t really have one yet. I am new at BRB and still finding my feet.

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

A lot of everything, but I try and keep it healthy.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show?

I like to get in and have everything ready and organised before the half hour call so that I have time to prepare.

What are you looking forward to dancing in 2012?

David Bintley is choreographing a new ballet called Faster, Higher, Stronger.  I hope to be involved in that and anything new I can get my hands on!

How do you deal with the stresses of performing?

By staying fit and healthy and being one step ahead of what I am doing. I enjoy the good bits when they happen and take the bad with a pinch of salt.

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

Al Pacino (I think he would have great stories), Richard Branson (A very inspiring fellow dyslexic), Eva Green (we have some dancing to do), Freddie Mercury (good for a sing song), Keith Lemon (because he’s nuts and good fun) and Jessica Brown Findley (I went to school with her and now she’s famous, so I’m very proud). That sounds like a good do!

What would surprise people about you?

I’m quite shy until I get to know people.

Who inspired you to dance?

So many different people in so many different forms of dance, but in ballet it’s got to be Carlos Acosta.

How would someone else describe you?

Probably loud, focused and fun… hopefully!

What is your best piece of advice?

Think your own thoughts.

Which role has tested you the most & how?

Romeo in every way – mind, body and soul. My body felt completely dead after Act I so it’s hard to think about how you are going to do Act II, let alone Act III.

What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?

I’ve had so many moments on stage that have been very funny. When you look back at them they are really funny but not at the time! There was a massive fall centre stage when my friends had come to watch for the first time. Getting our costumes hooked together and having to go off like Siamese twins was a good one, or just forgetting the prop that I needed to do the dance and having to mime holding something like a crazy person!

If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create?

I know what it wouldn’t be… It wouldn’t have some silly head dress or be pink or have big ears or horns!

A phrase I use far too often is …

What was that? I missed that…

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Me! Who’s writing the script and when do we start?!

What is your favourite quote?

“If it takes a yard and a half of tripe to make a double breasted waistcoat for a bow legged elephant, how long is a piece of string? As long as you want it to be.”

What’s on your iPod?

A whole load of everything from heavy metal to hardcore house… Musicals, classical, the lot!

Who would you most like to dance for, and why?

I’ve been lucky and danced for lots of important and amazing people. One that was special was HM The Queen. That was cool!

What makes you a good dance partner?

I have a willingness to try and understand the other person’s way of moving to make whatever we are doing work well.

Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about?

I can talk forever.

Describe yourself in just three words.

Energetic, positive, complicated.

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

My family. Cheesy, I know!

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year?

At the top of my game with some exciting and interesting new projects to be involved in.

What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?

I don’t really know. I have lots of things that I want to try.  All of them are visually based and creative. Different sorts of theatre, TV and films. I would like to be my own boss one day.

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