PRIMA BALLERINA – INTERVIEW WITH VICKI ATTARD

Published on 14th Dec, 2010

Vicki Attard one of Australia’s Prima Ballerina’s talks about what she is doing now and her journey in dance. With a career as a dancer spanning fifteen years, Vicki’s highlights with the Australian Ballet Company include dancing “Kitri” on the opening night of the Washington season,dancing the title role of Manon in “Tokyo” and the opening and all subsequent performances of Cio Cio San in “Madame Butterfly” for the New York season. Vicki also toured with the Australian Ballet to London, Greece, Italy, China and Russia

What inspired you to take the path of a ballerina?
It wasn’t exactly the traditional way that girls arrive at ballet. We were living in Mackay at the time, and there so happened to be a ballet teacher two doors up from our house, and mum asked if I would like to give it a try It wasn’t as if I desperately wanted to get to ballet class, unlike most little girls who are very keen at this young age.

What age were you when you decided you wanted to pursue a career?
Do you know what? I don’t know if I ever knew I wanted to pursue a career, because it all just unfolded for me. I trained before and after work everyday, until my ballet teacher asked if I would like to audition for the Australian Ballet School. So off I went to the audition in Townsville, and Dame Margaret Scott deemed me successful. I then thought to myself, if I’m good enough to be accepted, perhaps I should go. So I did. It was a three year diploma course, but before the three years were complete, I was offered a position with The Australian Ballet Company, and that’s how it all unfolded.

So did you ever have a yearning ambition to be a professional ballerina? I wouldn’t say that I didn’t want to be a dancer. I just didn’t think I was ever good enough. Even when I was told I was, it was a surprise that came with quiet confidence. Then I would go to the next step. However, once I entered the Australian Ballet Company, I was certain that this is what I wanted to be doing with my life. I think up until then, my experience as a dancer was something that just naturally happened. It didn’t make me any less ambitious, it was just a different way of achieving the same result.

Did any jealously arise in your years as a dancer and if so how did you cope with it?
Petty jealousies are normal in any big company. You have to remember that all dancers are vying for the same roles. Different dancers are being chosen for different roles on a daily basis. That’s just the nature of a ballet company. Of course, there are little jealousies along the way – that’s just life. The way I dealt with being unsuccessful, was to cry. It’s so cathartic!!! I would just cry and cry and cry. A lot of disappointment goes on in ballet companies, and you learn to get over it quite quickly. Everything levels out over time, but in the moment you think it’s the most devastating thing that could ever happen to you. You can easily lose the big picture in a ballet company, as it’s a confined, small world and it’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and what you’re going to do. I guess I can say that in hindsight. You can’t teach that to anybody or make them understand it until they go through it themselves.

How did you get into teaching?
I retired from the Australian ballet Company ten years ago and was keen to try teaching. I ended up really loving it. Not every dancer can be a teacher, it’s like anything in life, just because you are good at a particular thing, it doesn’t mean you can instruct it successfully. I started receiving some good feedback on my teaching which was very encouraging and that spurred me on to continue.

What are you currently working on now?
I have spent the past ten years developing a specialised and very challenging pointe tutorial entitled ‘My Pointe’. Basically, I developed it once I started teaching as I felt that pointe work could use extra assistance. You must understand that teachers don’t have a lot of time for pointe work, as they are flat out getting through the syllabus work. This programme is a culmination of 10 years of fine tuning and development, which will be an effective and useful tool for teachers and students alike.

To find out more about Vicki Attard and her specialised programme please visit http://www.vickiattard.com.au/

Interview by Kate Histon www.katehiston.com

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