When I first posted on social media that I wanted some opinions on the upcoming Nutcracker performance by the English National Ballet and the struggles professional dancers have to endure, I wasn’t expecting to get much of a response.
But then Bruna Sam, the mum of a newborn and ballet teacher at after school clubs and colleges commented. And it looks like she has something in common with Begona Cao, principal dancer of the English National Ballet who will be pirouetting at the London Coliseum for the Nutcracker.
Returning on stage just after giving birth, Begona Cao spoke to Cosmopolitan about the challenges of combining a professional dance career and motherhood. She says: “The festive period is very busy, with rehearsal taking up to 11 hours a day, but by far the best part of the day is coming home after a show and watching the girls sleeping.”
Begona Cao is not the only one trying to find the right balance. Fellow lead principal dancers Jurgita Dronina and Erina Takahashi thank their colleagues for making the long hours on stage very flexible and for giving them the chance to bring their children along during the training period. This makes their work environment a very enjoyable and successful one.
Due to the growing number of women deciding to become mothers while still performing, the English National Ballet has set up a group where parents can raise issues and discuss solutions to any problems. Most of the members love how the company supports and understands their decision.
However, not every company works in the same way. Charlotte Vincent, artistic director of the Vincent Dance Theatre, confirmed that full-time contemporary dance jobs complete with all the benefits, are not widely available in the UK’s experimental dance scene and are limited within the modern scene as a whole. But nevertheless, the taxing and demanding life of a ballet dancer is hugely rewarded by the fans appreciation.
Once the Nutcracker 2018 had been announced on Twitter, fans like blogger Emma Louise Layla couldn’t hold back their excitement.
🎄 With just ONE MONTH until Nutcracker opens at the @LondonColiseum, we're delighted to announce Principal casting! Who will bring this Christmas classic to life? Find out and book your tickets now: https://t.co/yHrj24pfQ2 #ENBNutcracker 1/5 pic.twitter.com/O9IoOv5i4K
— English National Ballet (@ENBallet) November 13, 2018
Booked tickets to English National Ballet's Nutcracker with my Mama – the ballet I've seen the most, with the person I've seen the most ballets with 👯♀️ #ENBNutcracker #holidaysarecoming #Christmastraditions pic.twitter.com/Q2BFs2goZ8
— Emma Louise Layla (@emmalouiselayla) November 16, 2018
Tickets sold out within minutes for the first night at the London Coliseum.
Although the pastel-coloured world of ballet find its recognition in fans appreciation and support, the challenges of professional dancers trying to lead a ‘normal’ life off stage are real.
Listen to Bruna Sammer talk about the difficulties and prejudices as a mum within the ballet industry.
Words: Federica Riondino | Subbing: Millie Richardson