Browsing Tag

The Royal Ballet


Interview Series: Alexander Campbell

I’m starting a new series where once a month I interview somebody of interest. This month I’ve teamed up with Australian born Alexander Campbell, an up coming star of the the Royal Ballet.
He trained at the Royal Ballet School, and went on to perform with the Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) and the Australian Ballet where he still often makes guest appearances. He was promoted to principle just a few years ago in 2016 and has danced some of the most well loved leading roles ever since.  He dances with many partners but one of his main collaborations is with Francesca Hayward, and together they’re one of my favourite duos. I’ve seen the pair most recently perform Peter Wright’s classical yet festive Nutcracker, and Canadian choreographer Robert Binet’s The Dreamers Ever Leave You – a site specific hypnotic and immersive dance experience staged at London’s Printworks, both of which were stunning.
Now enough background, lets hear from the man himself. Enjoy!
1. How did you get into dancing?
I went to see a performance by a school that my grandmother was teaching at when I was about 5 years old. I don’t remember much about the show but apparently I went home and said ‘that’s what I want to do!’
2. In the past you played a lot of cricket but made the choice to pursue ballet instead. Is there anything you learned from cricket that has helped you in your dancing career?
Through my connection with cricket, I learnt a lot about the importance of training and how best to look after your body. I remember being told about Skins when they first came out and learning about the value of compression as a recovery tool. Little things like that were really helpful to go alongside my ballet training.
3. Your biggest influence in the world of dance is Mikhail Baryshnikov – have you ever met him and if so what was he like?
I’ve never had the opportunity to meet Mikhail Baryshnikov but I had the opportunity to see him perform in Sydney when his White Oak Project toured to Australia. It was so exciting to see the person who I had watched numerous times on video in real life!
The Dreamers Ever Leave You - Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell
4. Who is your biggest influence outside the world of dancing?
Probably the members of my family. It would be impossible to pick one of them out as they all have different things I can talk to them about. I look up to each of them in different ways and I’m the person I am today because of them.
5. As a dancer you have to watch what you eat, but which food is your guilty pleasure?
I love biscuits … it’s probably a good thing that I don’t live in Australia near the Tim Tams or the Mint Slices! I struggle to say no to a good burger too.
6. Dancers travel a lot – what’s your weirdest airport experience?
I remember sitting in Dubai airport as I waited for a flight and seeing someone in the gate next to ours doing a series of ballet exercises. I tried not to stare but it very quickly became apparent that this was a professional so I had a closer look and was surprised to find that it was Amber Scott, Principal of the Australian Ballet. I’m not sure we’d ever met before then but I had worked with her brother, Glyn, whilst in Birmingham Royal Ballet so I went over to say hello. We had a nice chat then we flew in opposite directions as she was returning to Australia whilst I was going back to London!
7. You’ve danced all over the world, but where’s one place you haven’t danced yet that you would like to?
The Palais Garnier in Paris – such a beautiful opera house.
8. You’ve had many partners over the years, is there one dancer living or dead who you like to dance with the most?
Having worked quite a lot recently with Francesca Hayward I feel like we could develop something really quite special. I love what she does onstage during performances and I’m intrigued to see how we would work together on meatier, more dramatic roles. It is my hope that we will have the opportunity to develop our onstage relationship. In saying that, I feel very fortunate to have worked with some really wonderful partners; Natasha Oughtred, Momoko Hirata, Yuhui Choe, Laura Morera and Akane Takada to name but a few!
9. How did presenting for the live insights come about?
I was asked if I’d ever be interested in presenting one of the insights and I remember thinking ‘why not?’. I saw it as an opportunity to try something new and I liked the idea of developing a different skill. If you’d have told me that within a couple of years I’d be co-presenting a live cinema relay opposite Darcey Bussell, going out to over 30 countries worldwide, I probably would have laughed and said you were crazy, but it was an incredible experience and I hope to do it again soon!
10. What do you like to do in London when you get a day off?
I’m quite a morning person so I like to get up and have breakfast somewhere on my day off. My current favourite is a café in Tooting called Mud. Good coffee, delicious food. After that, it could be anything! I enjoy going to the cinema and seeing a good film. I enjoy going to the Victoria and Albert Museum and walking around – even though I’ve lived here in London for 15 years I still get excited about the historical buildings and the wonderful things to see. All that said, I’m also a bit of a homebody, so I’m perfectly happy to put my feet up and watch some sport on the TV!
You can follow Alexander Campbell on Instagram on @acampbell_1  and on Twitter at @Acampbell_1.
Happy Dancing!


Festive Fun with The Nutcracker

Royal Ballet - The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is one of the most exciting ballets to watch. For almost 2 hours this magical production sucks you in and the time goes by in a blink of an eye. It’s every ballet lovers favourite performance and it’s a show that most major companies in the world put on at this time of year. Some American companies are said to gain up to 40% of their income from this show every year!
If you’re looking to introduce a family member to ballet then this is a great performance to start with. It’s full of festive fun, glitter and sparkle, and amazing costumes. The lavish set design is always a treat – and the story really captures the spirit of Christmas with a beautiful tree, a toy maker with magical powers, a dream world full of sweets, mice, gingerbread men and toy dolls. At the heart of the story is some beautiful dancing that is simple in some areas and technically difficult in others, all set to some very familiar music from Tchaikovsky.
Set on Christmas eve, the Nutcracker tells the story of Clara and a magical present she receives from her godfather Drosselmeyer which takes her on a journey where she saves a handsome prince from the evil Mouse King. One of my favourite sections, and perhaps the most well known, is the dance of the Sugar Plum fairy. The way that she delicately introduces herself with developpes and pirouettes that circle the stage. It’s a challenging yet beautiful solo and a section that audience members look forward to each year. Some of the very best dancers of the world best have performed it too from Margot Fonteyn and Natalie Markova to Darcy Bussell and Lauren Cuthbertson.
Many people have choreographed their own versions of this story, from the original steps of Marius Petipa to the adaptations of Rudolf Nureyev and the contemporary reinterpretation of Matthew Bourne. All beautiful and well loved in their own right. My favourite production of the Nutcracker is by The Royal Ballet, and this year they will stream their live performance from the Royal Opera House to cinemas around the country. It’s happening on Tuesday 5th December so be sure to check that out!
Many feel that Christmas hasn’t really arrived until you’ve seen a production of the Nutcracker and this year you’re spoilt for choice. Productions of note in the London area are the English National Ballet, performing at The London Coliseum with a beautiful dancing and choreography, and the Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall which is set to be spectacular with 100 dancers involved.
Are you watching the Nutcracker this year? Tweet me and let me know.
Happy dancing!


The Dreamers Ever Leave You, A Review

The Dreamers Ever Leave you

This week saw dancers from both The National Ballet of Canada and The Royal Ballet collaborate on a new piece by Canadian choreographic associate and former Royal Ballet Apprentice Robert Binet. The piece, The Dreamers Ever Leave You is to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary, a huge feat. Binet took a short piece that had been created while working with Wayne McGregor that was inspired by Canadian painter Lawren Harris, of beautiful yet simple landscapes and built on this. The site specific piece was originally set in a Canadian gallery that had a major Harris exhibition on show. When this collaboration came up at the Printworks, this seemed like the perfect piece to rework and set there and they weren’t wrong.
The heat as you walked into the space hit you first, but this was to keep the dancers warm so that there were no injuries during the performance. Three flat stages were set in the darkness on the ground floor of the Printworks. The blue and yellow lighting set the tone of the piece and had the essecence of the Harris paintings with shadows of the 13 dancers moving across the walls.
The beautiful live hypnotic score was created and performed especially by Lubomyr Melnyk, and it lulled you into a meditative state before building with a stunning and emotional reprisal.
The performance cycled three times, each section lasting 45 minutes with the dancers working hard. The audience was as close to the performance space as you could get, with the likes of principles Francesca Hayward, Alexander Campbell, Yasmine Naghdi, Heather Ogden and more dancing just feet away which was a rare treat. So close in fact that you can feel the heat and see the sweat coming off the dancers as they brushed past you and moved between the spaces to their next section or to rest and catch their breath.
It was an interesting mixture of performance and behind the scenes movement and ritual.
Separately the individual elements of this piece were beautiful and highly technical but together it became an immersive bubble that you were allowed into for a short amount of time. I enjoyed this insight into both companies and I went away feeling inspired by this moving and once in a life time experience.