I became an apprentice dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet immediately after graduating from Elmhurst Ballet School last July.
For the graduate student performance Origins, David Bintley worked with me on the famous Hamlet solo from his The Shakespeare Suite, which was a real honour. I learned a great deal from him about honing skills to give a performance real impact through musicality and character – essential for portraying Hamlet’s fast-changing emotions convincingly – while executing the technical aspects strongly and seamlessly. I gained a great deal from the experience and soaked up everything he told me during his coaching.
Everything came together on the opening night of Origins. Bintley saw me dance Hamlet, Romeo in MacMillan’s balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet, a leading role in Wayne McGregor’s Entity and Lucien D’Hervilly, the lead male role in Petipa’s Paquita. It was a really good showcase for my talents. A few days later, he offered me an apprentice dancer contract with Birmingham Royal Ballet.
I had already been offered a contract in central Europe but this was a dream come true. The size of the company, its very diverse repertoire and particularly the experienced, well-established ballet staff were things that appealed to me. I’ve already danced some really good roles with the company: during the recent Nutcracker season at the Birmingham Hippodrome I was one of the two boys in the Chinese Dance and the Spanish Dance and one of the three boys in the Trepak – the famous Russian dance. I love these roles because they are so challenging in different ways.
There are always things to improve on: even in the middle of this run, I was noting places where I could be more articulate or add more finesse. I’m looking forward to performing Swan Lake at the end of January.
The only advice I would have for auditions is simple: be yourself and do your best. Directors always have their own preferences and opinions about which dancers suit their company. Rejection isn’t something you should take to heart. It’s just a learning curve, so never be afraid to ask for feedback. Always keep persisting and working hard.
Training: Elmhurst Ballet School (2011-19)
Awards: Phyllis Bedell’s Bursary (2016); Genée International Ballet Competition, bronze medal (2017); Elmhurst Ballet School award for excellence (2019)
Ryan Felix was talking to John Byrne