For those who missed the ‘Coming Soon’ on this one: twenty-year-old Sarah Williams has just spent the last five years of her life living and working in New York. She received a two-year scholarship to the School of American Ballet at fifteen, and was then selected to join the prestigious New York Ballet Company. Like me, Sarah is obsessed with the colour blue, and when it comes to surfing, she’s a goofy footer – probably the only time she’s been called that before.
What follows are extracts from our conversation about the process of being a professional ballet dancer.
I could say it’s amazing that you’ve just spent five years working overseas at an amazingly high level, AND you’re only 20. But I bet you had been working towards it for a long time. How old were you when you started dancing?
I was about 6 and I trained with Robyn Ross learning a style of classical dance called the Cecchetti Method. When I was eleven I went full time at SCECGS and started learning another style of ballet as well, RAD. From going to both of these schools at once, I can remember how much I used to train, it was pretty hard but it’s all worth it really because without it I’m sure it would’ve taken me a lot longer to get to where I am now.
Can you give me an idea of what a typical day is like when you’re contracted to the New York Ballet Company?
We work six days a week (Tuesday through to Sunday). On each of those days you have 1 to 2 hours of class, then rehearsal (which can be anything from 1 to 6 hours), then an evening performance (and on Saturdays, a matinee performance as well). The company usually does 3 ballets for each performance, and as a member of the corps de ballet, I would generally perform in at least 2 of those. (The company puts on something like 25 different ballets a season). During the day you also make time to see the physical therapist and masseuse as part of your general body maintenance program.
Depending on whether you go out after the evening performance, you might get home at around 11.30pm or so, sometimes later, have something to eat, watch a movie, sleep. Class starts at 10am most mornings. I’m a night owl, so that style of life suits me pretty well. More