An Australian principal dancer with the English Youth Ballet is coaching several of the most talented young people in Derbyshire.
Amy Drew is guiding the fledgling performers towards appearing alongside the professionals in the company’s production of The Nutcracker.
The young dancers will be appearing with Amy and six other international principals in the production at Buxton Opera House next month.
Amy, 30, who has danced all over the world, shares her story:
What have been some of the highlights of your dance career to date?
One of the highlights was dancing on the stage of the Royal Opera House and meeting Carlos Acosta and Sarah Lamb. I’ve been lucky to dance in Singapore, Tasmania, Dublin, London, Edinburgh, Majorca and all over the UK and Ireland. I performed in Nutcracker at Buxton Opera House with Ballet Ireland in 2006 - I was in the corps de ballet. I am looking forward to returning as the Sugar Plum Fairy!
What do you enjoy about working with the young dancers?
The best thing is seeing the progression from their first day of rehearsals to the performances. It is great when you see a spark of something in a student (a passion, hunger or joy) that reminds you of yourself at that age.
How do you maintain your own performance when you are doing a lot of teaching?
It is difficult for the principal dancers at EYB because we have to have two sides to our mentality. The dancer mode is very self-focused and the teacher mode is the opposite.
You have to be very open, giving and patient with the young dancers. When we are in London we rehearse with our partners in Pineapple Studios. When we’re in Buxton but not teaching we are practising as much as possible and joining in class with the young dancers.
The children benefit from seeing us in class and finding out how we prepare to perform.
What are your challenges in dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker?
I love the Tchaikovsky music of the Nutcracker pas de deux. he Sugar Plum Fairy doesn’t have much narrative. I do find character-driven roles easier to dance so the challenge for me is finding something story-driven about her character to work with. The dancing is so technical and pure that you need to find something ‘human’ about her that the audience can relate to.
If you could pass on one thing to the aspiring young dancers what would it be?
Even though ballet involves working hard and being disciplined and exact it is vital to let your personality shine through.
l There are four performances of The Nutcracker from November 13 to 14 at Buxton Opera House. Tickets £19-£24, tel 01298 72190 or visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk