Cupcakes & conversation with Ruth Brill, Artist, English National Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
Putting some music on and making a big cup of coffee.
What are you looking forward to dancing this season?
We performed Giselle this season. I love the English National Ballet production, Mary Skeaping’s version. I love the style, as I was trained in the Cecchetti method. I particularly enjoy the mad scene at the end of Act 1, trying to imagine how you would react if this happened in real life. You are watching your friend becoming destroyed by love and completely losing her mind – it is quite scary when you think about it! I love the acting side to ballet; you get the chance to play such a wide range of characters. I was one of the Wilis in Act 2; it is great to play a “supernatural vampire-like spirit… determined to be revenged on all men”. It is very empowering!
Who would you most like to dance with?
Anyone who is interesting and inspiring to work with, that I can learn from. I would love to dance something that had been created in collaboration.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
I darn around the edge of the block, sew on elastic and ribbons, shellac inside, bend the backs and squash the fronts. I wear pointe shoes made especially for me by Freed.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
Up, coffee, walk to work, class, Pilates, rehearsals, eat, meet friends, chat on the phone, listen to the radio, shower, read, green tea, bed.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
Chris Martin from Coldplay: Conveniently positioned next to the piano
Stephen Fry: Stimulating witty conversation
Vivienne Westwood: What a legend!
Michael Palin: Funny, warm, with plenty of good travel stories
Professor Robert Winston: To challenge my assumptions about science and human development
Wendy Cope: Pudding poetry?!
What would surprise people about you?
I always have a plan! I get bored very easily if I do not have enough to do. I like to have something to look forward to; someone to see, something learn or read, somewhere to go.
Who inspired you to dance?
Old musicals I used to watch over and over again as a child… Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, West Side Story – I can still picture the choreography when I hear the music.
Of course, my first dance teacher Judith Wilson. My teachers at Arts Educational School, Tring, and at English National Ballet School. In particular, Eve Pettinger whose evening Cecchetti lessons at Tring kept me inspired.
How would someone else describe you?
Big brown eyes, enthusiastic, determined, open minded.
What is your best piece of advice?
Believe and go for it!
As my friend Hilary always says “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”
Which role has tested you the most & how?
One evening around 8pm, I was in my flat, in my pyjamas, watching ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys’, when my phone rang… It was the ENB company manager…
“Hi Ruth. How are you? Are you at your flat? Now, I know that you don’t know ANY Coppelia… BUT… Someone was injured in the rehearsal today… Do you fancy coming down to Southampton… NOW?!!”
I got out of my pyjamas, threw a few things in my case, grabbed a taxi to the station and got on the first train to Southampton. I arrived in the foyer of the hotel at 11.30pm. I was greeted by the complete ballet staff of ENB, including Wayne Eagling (the Director). We sat down with a drink, and they showed me a DVD of Coppelia. I scribbled down the place I was to learn in “Dance of the Hours”. They wished me good luck and good night, as the doors of the lift closed. Once in my hotel room, I pushed the bed to the side, put on the DVD and pranced around until I had learnt it. Next morning, lots of coffee, did class, had a placing rehearsal, few corrections, 2 shows that day, and for the rest of the run!
Those 24 hours took the phrase ‘proving yourself’ to a whole new level. I am sure it helped me secure my contract at ENB!
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Having to lie dead, on the floor of a derelict pump house, with fake strangle marks and bruises, for my appearance as a murdered teenager in ITV’s Trial and retribution!
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream ethereal fairy costume and wild headdress.
What are you most proud of?
My family and friends and getting my contract at ENB.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
Me? Or the chance to be considered for it, at least?! I love acting and have a bit of experience in front of the camera. I would love to be in a film!
What is your favourite quote?
Life can only be understood backwards, it has to be lived forwards – Soren Kierkegaard
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
Something that moves, travels and ‘gobbles up the floor.’
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?
It is a bit cheeky to choose 3 but I really can’t choose between…
Performing at the Princess Diana Memorial Concert, at Wembley Stadium
Being chosen to represent Great Britain in the Cecchetti International Ballet Competition, Calgary, Canada
Performing in MacMillan’s Rite of Spring. WOWOWOW
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?