Cupcakes & conversation with Melissa Hamilton, First Artist, The Royal Ballet
Melissa Hamilton has recently been promoted and you can see her dance the role of Mary Vetsera in Mayerling on Tuesday, October 27 at 7.30pm. (Please note that casting is subject to change). The Autumn season begins from 8th October at the Royal Opera House.
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
That it’s the start of a new week, anything could happen and there’s still so much I want to do.
What are you looking forward to dancing next season ?
I start off my season with dancing the role of Mary Vetsera in MacMillan’s Mayerling which I am dying to get working on. Last season all my big roles were in contemporary works in Triple Bills so I am looking forward to dancing a lead role in a three-act ballet and people seeing a different side to me. Though, The Royal Ballet has such an expansive repertoire that the thought of what lies ahead at the beginning of the season is in itself something to look forward to.
Who would you most like to dance with ?
Someone who I respect and feel inspired by, however, the role would greatly affect my choice because the ideal partner for one ballet may not suit another.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I sew ribbons and one set of elastic to sit across the arch of the foot and cut the satin off the platform. I wear Grishko’s which tend to be made very hard so I like to hammer, bend and manipulate the shoes until I break the block down in certain places so they fit to the shape of my foot. I also “bash” them to minimize the noise they create. I never shellac a new pair of pointe shoes.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
Generally throughout the season I wake about 8am, have breakfast and walk to the Opera House, as my apartment is close. I like to warm up for at least 45 minutes before the 1hr15 morning class at 10.30am. Rehearsals begin at 12pm and run throughout the day until 6.30pm and 5.30pm when we have an evening performance. No two days are ever the same and I much prefer when my schedule is busy!
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Derren Brown; Lee Evans; Marco Pierre White; Jack Nicholson; Christian Louboutin; Penelope Cruz.
What would surprise people about you ?
How incredibly superstitious I am and that I write lists for just about everything.
Who inspired you to dance ?
When I first started ballet it was purely as an after school hobby. In Northern Ireland there is little to no exposure to classical ballet so I never had enough insight to be inspired. Therefore it was purely my Mum’s desire to keep me occupied that started me dancing.
How would someone else describe you ?
It would probably differ a lot depending on who you were to ask though most people would be likely to agree with stubborn, determined and strong minded.
What is your best piece of advice ?
Become self reliant as early in your life as you can.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Probably the principal role I danced last season in Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV (Danse à grande vitesse). I was originally covering the role but due to injuries I ended up dancing it with both Rupert Pennefather and Gary Avis. With both there wasn’t as much time as I would have liked to rehearse, especially with Gary as we had one rehearsal the afternoon before the first performance we did together. The role had been created on Darcey Bussell towards the end of her career, so to step into her shoes when I was just starting out on mine was in itself a test for me.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?
It didn’t happen to me but was a situation I was involved in a few years ago when I was going up an escalator with a friend. We both had two suitcases but she couldn’t quite manage hers on the steps and both toppled down. However, in her panic she didn’t let go so fell with them. Once she reached the bottom she couldn’t quite orientate herself enough to grab hold of something to stand up, so was rolling as the steps kept coming out and rising up. No-one else was on the escalator at the time. I’m sure myself trying to run down an upward moving escalator, whilst laughing hysterically with my friend rolling around at the bottom really must have been a comical sight.
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?
I adore tutus, so would love to create a flattering, comfortable bodice with a skirt that had a long enough diameter to compliment my proportions. It would also have sleeves which I always find look very feminine.
What are you most proud of ?
More than anything my family but also that I am doing something in my life that I was told by so many people that I would never be able to achieve.
Who would play you in the film of your life ?
That would be a difficult one to call as I don’t know of very many well known actresses that can pull off the Northern Irish accent too convincingly. I just hope that once I’ve lived my life it will be worthy enough of being put on screen!
What is your favourite quote ?
What will be, will be.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
Unfortunately not one that I even know of.