Cupcakes & Conversation with Toby Mallitt, Corps de Ballet, Corella Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
Before, when in London I used to rely on a good nights’ sleep to get me up, and in the summer there is nothing like a very hot sunny day to get you motivated. Since moving to Spain I started drinking coffee in the mornings, and there is nothing like a big cup of Spanish coffee in the morning to get you all wide awake. Depending on the day ahead, I sometimes get very excited by what rehearsals we have coming up and which teachers will be teaching us for class.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
My favourite part of my job is partnering so this is a tough one. There are so many wonderfully talented ladies out there in the ballet world but if I had to choose a few, I would probably love to dance with Marianela Nunez of The Royal Ballet in London, and Polina Semionova of Berlin Staatsoper. Although both would be too tall for me, the thought of dancing with either of these stars would be a great honour as they simply are diamonds in this business. As for what to dance – this is very tough but some of my favourite works come from the great Forsythe. In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated and The Second Detail interest me very much; the music and the movement are amazing.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
There is something about Egyptian history that interests me so much, and maybe dancing with the backdrop of the Sphinx and the Pyramids would be such an amazing performance. There is so much history there and to dance there would be one to remember.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
On a work day I would usually get out of bed about 9am and put on the coffee maker ready for when I get out of the shower. Make a good breakfast and prepare a bite to eat for lunch later in the day. Lucky for me, I am living with a girl from the company who drives, so it’s very handy for me to get to work (Thank you Tracy). At the studios, class begins at 10:30am and finishes at 12pm. Depending on the day, we can finish sometimes at 6-7pm or sometimes when we have performances coming up which do not include us as much we can finish as early as about 3-4 which is always a bonus, especially when the Spanish sun is calling our names. In the summer a few of us like to go for a drink on a terrace after work just to put a nice end to stressful, hard day at work. Getting home later I always sit down and check e-mail’s, Tweet a bit, and go through facebook before making dinner and heading to bed.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
Lucky for us, touring around Spain we get to visit such beautiful towns and cities. So usually before a performance I like to go around and investigate where we are and perhaps shop and have a good lunch in preparation for the performance later in the evening. Before heading to warm up class, I always grab another coffee and some snacks for during the performance. If by chance Twyla Tharp’s’, In the Upper Room is being performed in the evening, then a red bull will come in handy 🙂
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2010 ?
We have danced a great amount of varied repertoire this year so far, but currently we are rehearsing Raymonda Act III which is great, as I love the music. In Raymonda, I am very happy as I have the chance to dance the Pas de Quatre. Lots of work ahead to make this look good especially as it will be 3 soloists and me, wish me luck! Recently we have been on tour in New York which was definitely the highlight for me of being with Corella Ballet so far, getting to dance the wonderful DGV, by Christopher Wheeldon.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Well if a dinner was to be prepared then the first person would be Nigella Lawson, as she makes cooking look very interesting, and also makes scrumptious looking dishes. The comedy side of the conversation would have to come from Alan Carr, as he makes me laugh hysterically and think his choice of conversation would be very interesting indeed. Musically it would have to be Lady Gaga herself for originality. I would request a costume for her to be worn which would exceed all others previously worn. For extra added class and style I would love to bring back the great Alexander McQueen; I was a big fan of his work. Steve Rubell, one the owners of Studio 54 in New York, just ask everything about that era and what really went down in that iconic disco. Last but not least, I would love to invite Mikhail Baryshnikov, just to ask for few tips.
What would surprise people about you ?
I love to listen to House and Electro music, especially on a night out there is nothing better than dancing a whole different way, to let go of the previous busy week at the studios.
Who inspired you to dance ?
I remember the first ballet video I had, and it included a clip of Cynthia Harvey being partnered by Baryshnikov and I fell in love with it. It took me time to get into the ballet side of dance as I originally wanted to go into the more commercial side of it, Jazz etc. Michelle Blair, a wonderful Jazz teacher I had whilst dancing at English National Ballet School, very much pushed me every time I went to her class which helped me gain the strength to face the tough roads ahead in ballet. Of course my original ballet teacher back home, Linda Shipton, who pushed me for competitions and ballet schools at such a young age, really gave me a confidence boost, especially when winning The Baines Hewitt Bursary award for the ISTD ballet awards.
How would someone else describe you ?
I just turned around to Tracy Jones, to ask how to describe me and the first word she came up with was Flamboyant; great word, I must say. I think other people would use the words Fun-loving, Humorous, and a little crazy at times.
What is your best piece of advice ?
Live for your dream, never let anyone take that away from you. The world is your oyster. If speaking literally, then for a dancer I would have t
o say if auditioning, stand at the front and get noticed, there is no point hiding at the back. Confidence is Key.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
The role of the Stompers in Twyla Tharp’s’, In the Upper Room is without a doubt the toughest ballet I have performed. It’s a non-stop high energy ballet which involves a lot of running. It’s one ballet where caffeine is much needed.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?
There are two things that come to mind; one recently during Christopher Wheeldon’s VIII performance. A blue silk strip of material falls from the ceiling, but came down too early and floated in front of my face whilst I’m sitting on stage. I could not contain my laughter. Lucky the audience could not see my face, thanks to the material hiding me. Another being when I was playing the part of Bottom in Midsummer Nights’ Dream last year. During my solo, the inside of my crotch completely ripped. It felt more embarrassing being dressed as a donkey for some reason. Yet again they could not see my blushing face under the donkey head.
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?
Something clean cut and slick that is easily stretched but also makes your lines look very slender. My favourite colour is orange, but think that maybe a bit too wild, but then again, wild is most like me.
A phrase I use far too often is …
For some reason I always say “That’s way too much” just meaning, over the top. Sounds random I know but sounds right with the right tone of voice. A new one for my vocabulary is the word “Hench” just when something again is over the top, or very big.
Who would play you in the film of your life ?
Someone extremely witty, dashing and very fit of course… No, but seriously someone who is witty is important. I am not a bland person, I need someone who radiates energy. The actor Ian Somerhalder is great; just so happens he is very handsome too.
What is your favourite quote?
“The world is your oyster”- Anyone can achieve anything they put their mind too.
What’s on your iPod ?
Many podcasts of my favourite DJ’s including Steve Pitron, Steven Geller and Oliver M. I also love listening to pop music, nothing better to get you in a good mood.
What makes you a good dance partner ?
Pas de deux is my favourite part of being a ballet dancer. It’s a tough job making the girl look stunning without any fault, so I love working towards doing the best I can for the girl. One thing that is very important is team work so talking and going through things slowly that would work for both of you is extremely vital. I tend to put the blame on myself as never want the girl to feel bad, and a good partner should take most of the blame. Of course there always exceptions.
Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about ?
I am currently playing darts just for fun in the local bar, but tend to get quite into it. I think I’m getting better but nothing really I call a skill as yet. I am yet to discover it.
Describe yourself in just three words.
Spontaneous, Witty, Fun-Loving.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year ?
This time next year I see myself continuing to improve the best I can and being challenged with lots of new roles. I would love to start re-taking jazz and other types of dance lessons to see what else is out there, but for now I’m happy with where I am at and shall keep pushing forward.