14 May 2015
We caught up with Northern Ballet’s Kiara Flavin on performing in both Madame Butterfly and Elves and the Shoemaker at Cast this month and her favourite thing about ballet.
How do you prepare for Madame Butterfly/Elves & the Shoemaker?
There was quite a different preparation process for each ballet. Because Elves & the Shoemaker was a new creation, we spent many hours in the studio bringing it to life from scratch before rehearsing the final product. Madame Butterfly was a revisited work and therefore was taught to us by the ballet staff and the dancers who had done it before. The goal is to learn the steps and perfect them as quickly as possible in the limited time frame. Studying the videos and reviewing with colleagues are just some of the preparation techniques we use, in addition to the official rehearsals in the studio.
How long do you have to rehearse for Madame Butterfly /Elves & the Shoemaker and what is the preparation like?
Preparation time varies from production to production. While preparing for Madame Butterfly we were also learning two or three other works as well as touring and performing other productions. The brain gets a workout as well as the body! We pull it together in fewer hours than you’d think. For Elves & the Shoemaker the preparation was unique in my experience because I was involved in the creation, so a bit more time was allotted. Rehearsals can be quite intense as every moment in the studio is precious.
What is your favourite ballet to perform/to watch?
We’ve recently performed Wuthering Heights, and I was completely inspired with every show. Music, choreography, story-telling; just incredible. So passionate. Good luck holding back tears!
What has been your most challenging role so far in your career?
I cannot seem to pinpoint just one… There have been so many challenging roles and all for different reasons. The level of challenge is also interpreted on a very individual basis. I think it really depends on your confidence level at the time of tackling the role!
What is your favourite aspect of Madame Butterfly/Elves & the Shoemaker?
My favourite aspect of Madame Butterfly is the music as well as the uniqueness of the style and choreography. It is amazing how ballet can feel so different when put into a new context. My favourite aspect of Elves & the Shoemaker is the opportunity to deliver a high-energy and completely fun-filled performance. It is really difficult choreography, but it’s all play!
What advice would you give to anybody who is interested in learning ballet?
Although ballet is a very difficult art form to master, if you really love it, every obstacle can be overcome, and every success will be completely gratifying. You get out what you put in. Give it your heart and soul and it will reciprocate!
For those who don’t know, what are pointe shoes?
Pointe shoes are the shoes female ballet dancers wear which allow them to dance on the tips of their toes. A hard, flat platform facilitates this, but don’t be fooled, pointe work is not as easy as it looks!
What is your favourite thing about ballet?
Performing. Ballet is not a career for the faint-hearted, but every moment on stage is a gift, a pleasure, an honour.
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