Cupcakes & Conversation with Rachael Gillespie, Coryphée, Northern Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
It’s a brand new day! I’m lucky to be happy and healthy and doing a job that I love.
If ballet chose you, as many dancers say it did, what is it that has made you stick with it ?
The cycle of learning, rehearsing and performing in order to deliver the best that you can achieve as an artist.
What are you looking forward to dancing during 2014 & what are the big challenges likely to be for you ?
I’m looking forward to performing Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream again and, as we are taking Cinderella on tour, Young Cinderella. I really enjoy the challenge of improving and building on my work.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
I’m happy and grateful to dance with a partner I have a good connection with both on stage and in the studio. I would love to dance the role of Butterfly from David Nixon’s Madame Butterfly. It would be an honour to perform such a role.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
For my family in Hong Kong.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I like to make them feel as close to my feet as possible so after sewing the ribbons and elastics on I’ll super glue the tips to make them stronger and last longer. I also hammer them to minimise any noise.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
At the moment we’re at base rehearsing so a typical day starts with class at 10am then (with an hour’s break for lunch at 2.30pm) we rehearse through the day until 6.30pm.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?
I’m useless without my coffee and toast in the morning so breakfast is a must! I’ll have sustainable, high energy things to keep me going throughout the day, lots to drink is important too and then for dinner usually something like chicken, fish or eggs with vegetables.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Gene Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Dali Lama, Stephen Fry, Meryl Streep and Karl Largerfeld.
What would surprise people about you ?
I’ve made four wedding cakes!
Who inspired you to dance ?
My parents. They’ve always encouraged and supported me to pursue what I believe in.
What is your best piece of advice ?
Stay true to yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I like to switch off for a bit before a show. I usually have a shower, eat, listen to music then catch up on the phone to friends and family whilst I’m doing my hair and make-up. Then I’ll start to focus on a good warm-up and go over anything I feel necessary.
How do you deal with the stress of performing ?
I like to keep a good perspective. Our job is not life threatening, like a surgeon, and I think it’s important to keep focused on the bigger picture rather than stressing or putting pressure on yourself. All the hard work has been done in the studio so on stage is your time to just relax and enjoy yourself.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream as it’s a high energy, physical role that requires a great deal of stamina, strength and precision.
What do you look for in a dance partner ?
Trust, communication, drive and to be able to have fun!
What is your favourite quote ?
“Don’t aim for success if you don’t want it. Just do what you love and believe in and it will come naturally.” – David Frost.
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?
I enjoy adage.
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
“How much is this!?”
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
There are so many different and equally rewarding experiences on stage so it’s hard to pinpoint just one. However the best feeling on stage is when you feel completely confident enough to just go for it and totally lose yourself in the role.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
Not many people know that I can play the violin.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
To still be enjoying my work. To continue developing as an artist and to be faced with exciting new challenges.