The Royal Ballet’s newest dancer is 17 year old Patricia Zhou, an inspiring late starter who joins the company on an apprenticeship, and I recently caught up with her as part of the Ballet News ‘From Student to Star’ series, to see how she won her coveted contract and what she’s looking forward to.
What was the process of being accepted into The Royal Ballet, for you?
I received an apprenticeship to The Royal Ballet through the Prix de Lausanne. I was a prizewinner, so I got to pick three choices for where I wanted to be an apprentice for the upcoming season. The Royal Ballet was my first choice, so I was thrilled!
What are you most looking forward to about joining the company?
I am most looking forward to being able to actually get to perform more. I love performing and connecting with the audience, so I can’t wait for that! I am also excited to learn from others. I think it will be a great learning experience for me, and I can’t wait to take class with all of the great dancers in the company.
How do you think life will differ from your student days?
I think it will be extremely different for me next year. I am used to just following the many rules and curfews that the school has, so it will take a lot of discipline on my part to make sure I stay on top of everything once there is nobody supervising me on a daily basis. It will definitely be hard to manage everything at 17, but I will do my best to stay responsible. I am extremely excited to be cooking for myself though.
What are your best achievements as a dancer so far?
Starting my professional ballet training at the late age of 13, I think I have achieved a lot in four short years. I have won at a few international competitions and performed in many galas as well as on TV’s Dancing with the Stars. However, I think becoming an apprentice at The Royal Ballet has been the cherry on top. It has been my dream since I started considering a professional career in ballet, so I can’t wait to go there and see where it takes me!
Which professional dancers do you admire and why?
I love so many professional dancers. It is hard to choose because they all have their own unique things that I love about them. But if I had to pick any, I would pick Altnai Asylmuratova, Sylvie Guillem and Margot Fonteyn for their individuality. They were all so different, but they all had that prima ballerina confidence which I admire so much.
Does social media play a part in your ballet life and if so, how?
Social media plays a HUGE part in my ballet life. I have many videos all over the web, so it has helped me gain a lot of exposure. I also love having sites like YouTube where I can instantly search for a specific variation or dance that I am learning and see all of the famous ballerinas’ interpretations at once.
What do you think you will bring to the Royal Ballet?
Everyone has their own sense of movement, so I think I will bring something unique to The Royal Ballet. I am a very versatile dancer and can pick up choreography easily, so I hope that I will be able to contribute to the repertory.
How do you imagine your first day will go?
I will definitely be very nervous but also excited. It will probably be a disaster because I have no English (only Russian) training, but I cannot wait to learn, so hopefully it will get better. In an ideal world, I would fit right in, but I think that it is something I’m going to have to work on. I know for sure that I will be very excited to see the principal dancers like Marianela Nuñez, Tamara Rojo and Alina Cojocaru.
Which role would you most like to dance; where, and with whom?
I would love to dance any dramatic role like Juliet or Odette/Odile. I am not sure where or with whom, but if I ever got to dance any of these roles, I would be ecstatic!
How do you think you will benefit from being a part of The Royal Ballet?
The Royal Ballet is my first step as professional dancer, so I will definitely be learning a lot from it. I think I will definitely gain a lot of performance experience with the company. I am very excited to try new styles like Ashton and McGregor, and I am looking forward to dancing in more contemporary ballets. I am very open-minded so I hope that I am able to gain as much as possible from the apprenticeship.
Watch Patricia’s La Bayadere variation.
Read Patricia Zhou’s blog.
Watch Patricia’s Satanella variation.
Visit Patricia Zhou’s website.
Watch Patricia’s Nutcracker Grand pas de deux.