How did you start off in dance?
As a four-year-old, I begged my parents to let me take dance classes after seeing a TV documentary of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. My parents thought I was too young, but the documentary showed children as young as two dancing so they couldn’t say no after that.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
Build up your resilience and always have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C for good measure. Hard work and effort don’t always end in success, but success never comes without hard work and effort.
What would you change about training in the UK?
I would encourage aspiring performers to immerse themselves in all aspects of the performing arts. As a dancer, I learned so much and was inspired by the work of people from other disciplines. Training shouldn’t just be about the physical, but also the cognitive. As a dance student I was fascinated by Lindsay Kemp, Robyn Archer and Salvador Dali.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing students succeed far beyond the level I achieved when I was their age.
And your least favourite?
Having to say no.
Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students look up to?
Anyone who is forging into new territories but has respect for heritage and tradition.
What is the one skill that every successful theatre/dance professional should have?
Get to know stage door managers as they know just about everything and everyone else.
If you weren’t working in dance, what other art would you have liked to work in?
I would love to be an illustrator of children’s books, but I’m hopeless at drawing.
Michelle Groves, director of education and training at Royal Academy of Dance, was talking to John Byrne