Ever wondered what life is like as a full-time ballerina?
Us too! So we asked Lucy Green, Queensland Ballet Principal Artist to share the low-down on life on pointe.
Here’s what Lucy had to say:
My earliest memories of dancing were to music my grandparents played in their living room. I always struggled to sit still when music was playing, a trait I still carry today, and I’m told I quite enjoyed an audience. So I feel incredibly lucky to have now made a career and a life out of doing what I love most.
I started ballet classes at the age of six at a local school in Sydney. Whilst I don’t remember a particular moment when I realised it was what I wanted to do with my life; I can’t remember ever wanting anything else. At the age of 12 I was accepted into VCASS, an arts high school, and had six years of full-time dance training alongside my regular high school classes.
It was at school that I discovered just how rigorous, competitive and all consuming a life in dance can be. The weak and non-driven slowly fell by the wayside and only the most passionate, strong and hard working made it through to professional life.
Ballet is an aesthetic, physical art form that undoubtedly requires certain physical attributes and a natural propensity, however, I’ve found that throughout my career it’s been the hard work and passion that have been most important, and most admirable to me when watching my colleagues and peers.
You really do have to love it, because our days are never easy.
Now, as a professional, I work eight hours a day plus an extra hour of self-maintenance (warm up, Pilates, stretching and icing). We start every day with a technique class, which allows us to focus on the framework of classical ballet technique and continue to improve on it. After that it’s five to six hours of rehearsing for the upcoming season of performances.
Here at Queensland Ballet we perform many full-length classics like Swan Lake and Cinderella, but also more modern repertoire and brand new ballets created and workshopped with choreographers. We have to be able to do it all and our bodies, being our tools, have to be fine-tuned and ready for whatever it is that may be thrown at them.
I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have pain. In fact most dancers have pain every day. But as you get older you find ways to minimise that pain and maximise the amount your body can give. We work with excellent physiotherapists at QB and have regular massages, while Pilates helps to address any weaknesses.
On top of that, a balanced diet is so important and whilst there is still the stigma that dancers survive off carrot sticks and coffee, I can assure you we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without proper fuel.
If I don’t have eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, I really notice the lack of recovery and focus in my body and mind. I’m so thankful for my Sealy Posturepedic mattress. My back and neck really feel the difference.
I think possibly the most important and undervalued concern for dancers is to find a work life balance. Ballet is certainly all consuming and a bit of an obsession, but if you don’t switch off at times and allow yourself to experience other aspects of life, you don’t have experiences to draw from when interpreting a role and telling a story.
And for me it’s this side of Ballet that’s the most rewarding and beautiful. To be able to lose yourself on stage, embody someone or something else and take the audience on a journey. It’s an exhilarating, beautiful thing.