Beyond the Ballet - Summer 2021

Jul 13 2021 | Posted in Newsletter

There is much more to our artists than what you see on stage. At the start of our 20/21 season, we interviewed each of the dancers to learn about their interests and personalities #BeyondTheBallet. We will update this page with more insights throughout the summer of 2021.​

If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which would it be?

Chenxin Liu would be a rabbit because “I was the rabbit in Vespers; the role was created with me in mind.”
Alanna McAdie would be a cat (despite not being “a cat person”) because “they are observant and quiet.”
Yue Shi would be dog because “they are loyal and protective.”
Yayoi Ban would be a cat.
Elizabeth Lamont would be a bird.
Yosuke Mino would be “an old monkey.”
Katie Bonnell would be a dog because “I am very affectionate.”
Jaimi Deleau would be a giraffe because “they’re cool when they get going, but sometimes they’re very awkward.”
Stephan Azulay would be a monkey.
Liam Caines would be a dog because “I like to keep life fairly light-hearted.”
Peter Lancksweerdt would be an eagle.
Jenna Burns would be a dolphin because “they are so social.”
Elena Dobrowna would be a koala bear.
Emilie Lewis would be a black cat because “I like to nap in the sun.”
Katie Simpson would be a baby deer because “I have long limbs and can be clumsy sometimes.”
Amanda Solheim would be a bird because “they are elegant and pretty.”
Brooke Thomas would be a puppy.
Joshua Hidson would be a bird.
Tymin Keown would be a tiger... or a dog.
Michel Lavoie would be a sloth.
Parker Long would a cat who “is laying down one moment, then bouncing off the walls the next.”
Liam Saito would be a buck.
and former dancer Ryan Vetter would be a chipmunk.

What is something about ballet that most people don’t realize?

Yosuke Mino: “Ballet is actually a job, not something we do just for fun. It is fun, but we are often asked what we ‘do.’ I tell them, ‘we dance’... it’s a lifetime commitment, more than people think.”
Stephan Azulay: “I don’t think people know how much work we put into our bodies. I think how much we can eat is also different. I can eat a lot of food, to the point that people are shocked.”
Emilie Lewis: “I spray my [pointe shoe] ribbons with hairspray… to keep them in place.”
Katie Simpson: “It’s an art form, but it’s very physical. [It] requires cross-training, basically devoting every minute of your life to dance. It’s an investment.”
Amanda Solheim: “People think it’s elegant and dainty, but there’s really tough stuff going on in rehearsals.”
Joshua Hidson: “People don’t understand that dance is a profession. People always ask what else I do, but I tell them it’s my full-time job.”
Tymin Keown: “People don’t see how much work we have to put into ourselves to be dance ready.”
Michel Lavoie: “The length of time it takes to train to become a ballet dance is a common thing people don’t know.”
Parker Long: “We’re just normal people! Sometimes people have this idea that we’re very fancy or something special. We’re just like everybody else, our job is just a little different, and we do weird things with our bodies.”
Liam Saito: “We spend a lot of hours putting together any show that goes to the stage. It’s a long process [and] I think a lot of people don’t understand how long it can take. We work from 9-6 everyday to put these shows together.”

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you want to have?

Chenxin Liu would want the ability to heal others and prevent disease.
Alanna McAdie would want to be a shapeshifter
Yue Shi would want the ability to heal others.
Yayoi Ban would want teleportation.
Elizabeth Lamont would want to be immune to pain.
Yosuke Mino would want the ability to speak any language.
Katie Bonnell would want to fly.
Jaimi Deleau would want to fly.
Stephan Azulay would want invisibility.
Liam Caines would want to read minds.
Peter Lancksweerdt would want to fly.
Jenna Burns would want a pause button for life.
Elena Dobrowna would want immortality.
Emilie Lewis would want the ability to breathe underwater because she “loves to swim.”
Katie Simpson would want to fly.
Amanda Solheim would want invisibility.
Brooke Thomas would want teleportation.
Joshua Hidson would want teleportation because “I’m always late.”
Tymin Keown would want telepathy, or the ability to read minds.
Michel Lavoie would want teleportation.
Parker Long would want telepathy.
Liam Saito would want to fly.
and former dancer Ryan Vetter would want the ability to impart empathy.

Do you have any pre-show rituals to prepare yourself?

Chenxin Liu: I nap before the show, don’t like to talk because of nerves and getting into the role.

Alanna McAdie: I nap pre-show, it makes me focused.

Yue Shi: I practice a lot, work with other dancers on getting better.

Elizabeth Lamont: I like to eat three hours before a show, it helps me not to get nervous. After that I’ll take a nap and then get my costume on an hour before the show starts, then I’ll make sure my hair and makeup are done and start going through the steps of the show. I’ll also sometimes put on a sage roll-on that has a really calming scent, and it really helps my nerves. When I get on stage I do the same rise combination, just to feel grounded, then I’m ready.

Yayoi Ban: I eat two hours before the show, then take time for the makeup and participate in the warmup. I also like to go on the stage and go over everything. I also listen to music before the show, onstage particularly, before the half hour.

Yosuke Mino: For me the goal is not to think about rituals. Not having a ritual is my ritual.

Katie Bonnell: I like to eat 2-3 hours before the show, and I put my left pointe shoe on before my right one. There are always a couple steps that I’m worried about, so I practice them first until I feel good.

Jaimi Deleau: While I’m getting ready, I like to go over all my steps and the roles I’m playing. I also have to put my left shoe on first, and then I have to chew a piece of mint gum 30 min before the show.

Stephan Azulay: The biggest thing I use is music. For each show I’ll have a different playlist, especially for character roles. I tend to play a lot of evil characters, so for Zidler in Moulin Rouge, I would have really intense music to help get me in the zone. That starts with my makeup, I’ll start an hour before the show starts, doing my makeup and playing my playlist. That’s about all I do for preparation, I don’t do much warm up.

Liam Caines: I have a two-hour process that starts with eating dinner, then a 30 minute nap. I have two playlists, one is a napping playlist and following that is the pre-show playlist [with] more intense uptempo songs while I warm up. Then makeup and head to the stage.

Peter Lancksweerdt: Before the show I like to relax, or else I’ll play a video game with other dancers to keep my mind busy. I also like to take the warmup class, I get into a costume and I like to be on my own before the show. No rituals. I do eat cookies before the show and on the break. When the show is really hard, like Wizard of Oz hard, I sometimes will drink a Red Bull.

Elena Dobrowna: Chill music, it helps me relax. Do my makeup and my hair, which helps me prepare.

Emilie Lewis: I have to do the warm up, that helps. I don’t like to rush. Getting the costume on and getting ready, I love all that.

Katie Simpson: Doing the stage makeup calms me down and helps a lot.

Amanda Solheim: Changes depending on the show, but if I do something before a show and it goes well, I have to repeat those steps every show.

Brooke Thomas: Not a ton of performing opportunities with the Company yet, but I always get my hair and makeup done first.

Joshua Hidson: Two hours before the show starts, I work on my makeup for a while. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I like to get all my lines perfect. It helps get me in the good headspace for the show.

Tymin Keown: I’m normally very focused before the show. It depends on what I’m performing. If I find the choreography difficult, I’ll practice it. Especially if there’s a hard move or turn in the steps that I’ll have to do.

Michel Lavoie: Getting ready for the show is my ritual.

Parker Long: I use music while getting ready and then just before I get on stage I go over the meaning of all the movements to better fit myself into the puzzle of the ballet.

Liam Saito: I like to listen to pump-up music while putting my makeup on. I really feed off the energy of my coworkers in the dressing room.

Former Dancer Ryan Vetter: I try not to have rituals before the show, because if I had them, I would be super stressed if I [couldn’t complete] them. So I trained myself not to have a schedule. You never know what’s going to happen at the threatre, things might be moving slower on a certain day. I don’t have a certain time that I start my makeup or start warming up, I don’t want to rely on a ritual to feel like I’m going to have a good show.

Who is your personal hero?

Chenxin Liu’s hero is her dad because “he protects me, and does his best for me. I’m his only daughter… I learned a lot from him.”
Alanna McAdie says “many people in [the RWB] building inspire me” and not any particular person.
Yue Shi’s heroes are his parents because they “always supported me, my mom especially. Anything I needed she was always there for me, ‘yes, of course’.”
Yayoi Ban’s hero is Evelyn Hart because “she’s very big in japan, and maybe the reason I’m here. My ballet teacher in Japan was a big fan of Evelyn and really recommended me to apply at the School. At the time she was still dancing with the Company, so I even got to see her perform.”
Yosuke Mino’s heroes are “people who keep working hard without recognition from others.”
Katie Bonnell’s hero is her mom because “She’s a stay-at-home mom, she drove me everywhere to get me to all of my activities,” and adds that she “had a rough phase before graduating” but her mom supported her.
Jaimi Deleau’s heroes are her parents because they “gave me a great childhood and instilled in me my values,” and whose relationship she “really look[s] up to.”
Stephan Azulay’s heroes are anyone that is committed to their profession with some specific examples including Michael Jordan and Tom Cruise,
Liam Caines’ heroes are his dad and grandfathers because “I look to them the most for guidance” and he “want[s] to emulate” their behaviour.
Peter Lancksweerdt’s heroes are his parents because “they supported me all the way, from being a little kid, when I was in school. They still support me from the other side of the globe.”
Jenna Burns’ hero is Katie Zwingerman, a physiotherapist at the RWB because “her job is very hard to take care of the dancers.”
Elena Dobrowna’s hero is her husband because “he’s kind, my friend, [and] very patient and helpful.”
Emilie Lewis’ heroes are her parents because “they raised me and everything.”
Katie Simpson’s hero is her mom who “really helped me get here” but also notes she is inspired by many dancers and other people close to her.
Amanda Solheim’s heroes are her parents because “I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”
Brooke Thomas’ heroes are her mom because “she believed this was the right place, and supported me, she is always there” and her sister who is “someone who I look up to and motivates me.”
Tymin Keown’s hero is his mom because “I had a tough childhood and she raised me and two sisters by herself. She did everything to give us the best lives. She helped me get into sports and supported me in dance. We never struggled, because of how hard she worked as a mother.”
Parker Long’s hero is Leonid Sarafanov, a Principal dancer with Mikhailovsky Theatre in Russia, because “no matter what he’s doing he makes it seem like second nature.”
Liam Saito’s heroes include his parents, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Daniel Simpkin.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three items would you take with you?

Chenxin Liu: Phone, charger, and my boyfriend
Alanna McAdie: A good book, a pair of pointe shoes, and wine
Yue Shi: Food, fire, and my girlfriend
Elizabeth Lamont: Three people who could get me off the island
Yosuke Mino: Just a knife. Maybe unlimited supplies of food and water
Katie Bonnell: Sunscreen because I burn, a speaker to play music, and family and friends
Jaimi Deleau: A onesie (I like to be warm), water, and my dog
Stephan Azulay: Cast iron pan, a knife, and a Sodastream
Liam Caines: A GPS device
Peter Lancksweerdt: My girlfriend, a knife, and a pot for water
Elena Dobrowna: Family (husband and daughter), a good book, and a bottle of wine
Emilie Lewis: E-Reader for books, an iPod for music, and my brother
Katie Simpson: My phone, chocolate, and a water bottle for survival
Amanda Solheim: Bottled water, a boat, and snacks
Brooke Thomas: A blanket
Joshua Hidson: My girlfriend, my espresso machine, and my bike
Tymin Keown: A speedboat, gas, and water
Michel Lavoie: My XBox, the biggest TV I could find, and my friends and family
Parker Long: Duct tape, a good book, and a pocket knife
Liam Saito: A lot of water, a fire starter, and a machete
Former Dancer Ryan Vetter: Food, water, and my husband