Cupcakes & Conversation with Sanmarie Kreuzhuber, Soloist, South African Mzansi Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
It’s always a little hard to get going at the start of the working week! At South African Mzansi Ballet, we generally work a six day week and my day off is usually spent doing mundane chores such as laundry, grocery shopping and darning my pointe shoes.
You don’t choose ballet, ballet chooses you! I was very young when I first saw Swan Lake on television. I told my Mom I wanted to be a ballet dancer. She too had dreams of being a ballet dancer and enrolled me in class the very next day. At first it was just fun, and then it became my passion. I am now performing roles I dreamt of as a little girl!
What are you looking forward to dancing during 2013 & what are the big challenges likely to be for you ?
My first major role this year is Kitri in Don Quixote. I am making my debut on March 8th at the Joburg Theatre. Being cast as Kitri was initially very daunting but as rehearsals progress, I am enjoying it more and more. Kitri is sexy, spicy, Spanish, flirtatious and playful. I’ve done quite a bit of research into the role, even Kitri’s fan is an extension of her character and an integral part of the role. I am finding the dual role of Dulcinea / Kitri a challenge, I need to make it clear to the audience that the two characters differ. Although the technical aspects of the ballet are important, I want to make Kitri my own, I want to show the audience the aspects of her character, and how she changes through the ballet. I want the audience to sit on the edge of their seats, wondering ‘what’s next?’
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?
I would love to perform the role of Camille in La Traviata. I recognise a lot of myself in her. It would be very exciting to dance with Sergei Polunin!
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
I adore history and culture and would enjoy performing in any of the grand old opera houses in Europe. It would be magic to perform on the great stages of the world, stages that have been graced by famous dancers for hundreds of years. Last year, I performed at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman, it gave me butterflies in my stomach to look at the stage and auditorium. It was one of the most beautiful theatres I have seen, and an amazing experience.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
It has taken me years to figure out where best to stitch the ribbons and elastics. I don’t break my shoes in before wearing, but prefer that they mould to my feet as I work.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
I often go to see a physiotherapist before work. I aim to be at the Joburg Theatre at 09h00 for a pre-class warm-up. Class is generally from 10h00 to 11h15 followed by a fifteen minute tea break. I then go into rehearsals until lunch time at 13h30. After an hour’s break, we continue rehearsals. Rehearsals for Principal roles are generally in the morning but I also rehearse a lot of Soloist and corps de ballet roles in the afternoons. I leave the Theatre around 18h00 and relax at home (I enjoy craft!) or do chores with my house mate Lauryn.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?
I must have a cup of coffee in the morning! I usually have cereal or rye bread for breakfast. Lunch is fruit, yoghurt and muesli. My room-mate is a good cook and she will cook dinner consisting of protein, a starch and vegetables.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
My favourite author Stephen King, Johan Mayer (he is gorgeous!), Joan Jett and Natalia Ospiova. I visited Rome in the December holidays and was inspired to meet Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra too!
What would surprise people about you?
I was a tomboy growing up- and there is still a bit of tomboy in me!
Who inspired you to dance?
The production of Swan Lake that I saw on television when I was a little girl.
What is your best piece of advice?
Grow a thick skin! This was good advice given to me which I would like to share.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
I spend time warming up, putting on my make-up, checking my pointe shoes, costumes and props.
How do you deal with the stress of performing?
I try to have a short nap before going on stage as this calms me down.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty was a great challenge. Aside from the technical and stylistic challenges, the character of a young girl was not as easy for me to portray, as perhaps an older character may be.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
Wearing a tutu and tiara was always my dream. However I am able to move more freely in lycra, and green is my favourite colour.
What do you look for in a dance partner?
Ideally, there should be professional connection, and of course, trust.
What is your favourite quote?
“Take life with a pinch of salt, a slice of lemon and a shot of tequila.”
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
I can jeté until the cows come home! It’s a step I enjoy doing as soon as I wake up!
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
“I don’t want to, but I have to.”
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?
My debut as Carmen in Veronica Paeper’s ballet of that name. It was liberating to play a character who is so seductive!
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?
I make beautiful tapestries!
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
I would like to keep growing – this is the only way a dancer can keep moving forward.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?
If I stayed in the ballet world, I would like to coach pre-professional or professional dancers. I would like to impart the lessons that I have learnt from my coaches, to the next generation.