Alexandra is an aspiring corps de ballet dancer with many years of dancing experience. Having graduated from the conservatory of Paris, she danced for the Polish National Ballet before returning back to France where she is currently working.
How long have you been in ballet for? Why did you decide to make it your career?
I started dancing for fun when I was 6 years old, and as a professional when I was 19 years old. I actually didn’t see my life otherwise. I was in a special school, going to dance classes in the morning and studying in the afternoon. My childhood friends were my classmates – also dancers and artists. Plus I didn’t like any other sport at the time, whereas dance had always been fun for me.
How did you happen to work for the Polish National Ballet?
I had to audition during my last year of school. The problem was that I was a bit overweight at the time. Due to that it was pointless to do a lot of big auditions – like that of Berlin – running in January. By April, though, I was pretty fit, so I decided to audition for the Polish National Ballet, whose audition took place in June. That is how I got a 5-year contract with them.
How do corps de ballet maintain a friendly relationship if they are all, in fact, competitors trying to get noticed and promoted?
Competition can be unhealthy for some people. For me succeeding is not about making my colleagues fail. I try to push myself as much as I can. We all have different bodies and personalities, and if you know how to use what you’ve got, this is when it works for you.
Do you have any special rituals you do to get into the right mood before a performance?
Yes, I have a “ritual” before a show. I go for hair and make-up, I do my warm-up routine, I put my shoes and my costume on. If I am not sure about the choreography, I go over it once remembering the corrections we’ve had in rehearsals. And at the last moment I apply a bit of rosin to my shoes.
What are your eating habits? Do you have to follow any particular diet?
I don’t follow a diet, I just have a different lifestyle, I guess. I eat as healthily as I can – I believe food has a lot to do with how your muscles and brain work. I eat a bit of everything in reasonable quantities and drink a lot of water.
Do ballet dancers do any sport on top of their ballet classes? Is it recommended at all?
Yes, I think everyone does something on top of dance. It’s actually recommended because dance can be violent for your body. Men usually go to the gym, some people run, swim, do pilates. I do gyrotonic once a week, and I have a strengthening and stretching routine every day (abs, arms, legs, calves, back).
Are there paid holidays for ballet dancers? How many days per year? How do you spend your days of paid holidays?
I m lucky because I’m a full-time dancer, so I get 5 weeks of payed holidays. For freelance dancers it’s a bit different. I must say that most of dancers enjoy their holidays. I have a big family in Mexico, as I have dual nationality, so I spend most of my summer there.
Do ballet dancers have a fixed salary or do they get paid based on the number of performances per month?
As I’m a full-time dancer, I have a fixed salary every month no matter how many shows I do. I get extras if I dance a role or something specific that requires body painting or lifting something heavy, etc… There are many rules about that. We get extra money when we go on tour as well or if we have extra projects that aren’t related to the theater.
What are some of the activities you enjoy doing when you have some free time?
I like cooking, knitting, taking photos and playing the piano. At the moment I’m learning Russian, and I hope to start taking acting classes next year. Also, I just got my dance teacher’s diploma.
What is your ultimate goal as a ballerina?
I hope to get up the ranks to become at least a demi-soloist but it really depends on many factors, so I would say that my ultimate goal is to become the best artist I can and always grow as a person.
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