Cupcakes & conversation with Elisha Willis, Principal, Birmingham Royal Ballet
Elisha will be performing the lead role (first cast) of Roxane in David Bintley’s Cyrano. She is also dancing in David’s new E=mc² and Garry Stewart’s The Centre and its Opposite in the triple bill Quantum Leaps – in Birmingham and throughout the autumn tour.
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
I have to admit I’m not a morning person. The fact that I love my job makes it easier for me to get out of bed in the morning. But I do struggle.
Who would you most like to dance with ?
I’ve had the chance to work with some of the most wonderful partners in my career including Steven Heathcote, albeit only a very small part. If I could turn back time I would have loved to have performed a full length ballet with him, Manon or Onegin would have been a dream, he was exceptional in both.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I am fortunate enough to have my shoes made for me by Bob Martin, which are made perfectly for my feet. All I have to do is sew on the ribbons and go !
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I don’t really have a daily routine as every day is different.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Eddie Vedder, Ian Rankin, Dave Grohl, Billy Connolly, Shirley MacLaine, Hugh Jackman.
What would surprise people about you ?
I’ve always been a bit obsessed with Mount Everest. I would love to climb it one day, or at least make it to Base Camp.
Who inspired you to dance ?
There are so many people that inspired me and still do, but if I had to pick one it would be Miranda Coney. I grew up watching her, I was always more excited when I saw her name on the casting. I was lucky enough to join The Australian Ballet Co while she was still dancing. She is such a wonderful person and the most fearless performer I’ve ever seen.
How would someone else describe you ?
Honest, independent and a little bit bossy !
What is your best piece of advice ?
Always try to find the positive in every situation.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Odette in Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake – it’s technically and physically demanding but the main test is the epic emotion needed to perform it. It always took me hours to recover after the performances.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?
I can’t think of a funniest moment but my husband and I always have a laugh.
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?
I absolutely love chiffon empire line dresses. I think they’re flattering, delicate and don’t restrict your dancing like boned bodices do. It would have to be something like that.
What are you most proud of ?
My relationship with my friends.
Who would play you in the film of your life ?
A little unrealistic perhaps but Cate Blanchett. I think she’s an exceptional actress.
What is your favourite quote ?
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
I’m not sure it’s a secret skill, but I’m a pretty good swimmer.