Dancer Profile: Andrew Wright

The Australian Ballet is currently in rehearsals for Njinsky, a ballet depicting the soaring rise and tragic fall of ballet legend, Vaslav Nijinsky. Elixr members can enjoy 10% off tickets to Nijinsky at the Sydney Opera House from 11 – 28 November 2016. To book, visit: australianballet.com.au/nijinsky and apply code ELIXR

We caught up with soloist, Andrew Wright, who brings his celebrated artistry to the role Pretushka, and spoke to him about life as a member of the company, the importance of maintaining peak physical fitness, and the future.

What does an average day look like for dancers of The Australian Ballet?
When we’re performing, our daily ballet class starts at 11am and leads into rehearsals until 3pm. These rehearsals are typically for a ballet other than one we’re performing. After this, there’s a break until warm-up barre at 6.30pm when we prepare physically for the show. The break gives us time for supplementary Pilates or gym work as well as physio and myotherapy, if required.

How do you prepare in the hours leading up to a performance?
I like to have a decent-sized healthy lunch and will ‘top up’ with a banana and muesli bar just before the performance. I typically won’t eat dinner until after a show. I enjoy swimming as part of my cross training regime, but if my role that night is particularly demanding, I’ll engage in Pilates exercises geared towards my body’s needs, and possibly a physio appointment. I like to have my hair and makeup done before warm-up barre, so that I can spend the time before the performance focusing on the choreography and getting into character.

How important is having a strong core for a ballet dancer?
This is absolutely essential. So much of our movement stems from our core, and its strength is central to spinal health and correct posture – particularly crucial to us guys when we are partnering the ladies, especially with any of the big overhead lifts.

Which ballet in the 2017 season are you most looking forward to?
The new work by Wayne McGregor, currently being created on The Royal Ballet, which will form part of the Faster triple bill. It will no doubt be a thrilling and physically interesting piece of dance as Wayne’s movement vocabulary always surprises with just how much you can do with the human body, both in form and stamina.

How long have you trained at Elixr?
Since the beginning of the partnership with The Australian Ballet in 2008.The reformers at Elixr are a fantastic resource for us.

What is the most demanding role you’ve ever performed?
Glen Tetley’s Gemini. Created in the 70s, it still is one of the most physically demanding ballets in our repertoire. It’s a 30-minute non-stop dancing marathon for four dancers, but a truly rewarding challenge to rise to.

And one you’d still love to perform?
Albrecht in Giselle.

Do you take Pilates or yoga classes?
We’re very lucky at The Australian Ballet to have our own Pilates coach who devises personalised exercises for us. When we’re in residence in Sydney, an ex-company member takes a mat class three times a week that I really enjoy.

How do they complement your ballet classes and rehearsals?
Pilates is the perfect supplementary tool to help build and maintain strength and manage any niggles that may arise. Specific exercises are also great for warming up the body before starting class or rehearsals and encouraging the recruitment of the correct muscles in a low impact manner.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
I’ve been rather fortunate to be relatively injury-free during my career, but I did have a season off due to repertoire-related inflammation in my lower leg. No dancer likes being ‘off’ and I remember hating that I was unable to move my body every day in a balletic way.

So, how do you protect against injury?
By being mindful. Know your body and what it needs as well as its limits, eat well, and maintain your strength.

How important is good nutrition to you?
Extremely. You only get one body and in this physical job, maintaining it is key. Good nutrition is the first step to staying healthy and happy and getting the best out of yourself.

What do you eat for breakfast to help you sustain your energy levels?
I’ve never been a big breakfast eater, but a bowl of wholegrain cereal, a banana and a good coffee seem to do the trick!

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not rehearsing?
I love to get to the beach whenever I can, whether it be to swim or just enjoy the fresh air out of the theatre and get my vitamin D levels up! A bit of plane spotting brings out my nerdy side, too!

Who is your greatest inspiration?
My best friend.

What’s the most important thing in your life besides ballet?
Definitely my family and friends.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Unfortunately, I think my dancing shoes will be hung up by then. However, I know that I will be immersed in something I’m passionate about. Life is exciting and I’m looking forward to all the possibilities the future holds!