Interview with dancer, Amanda Daly

 

Amanda Daly is a company dancer at the California Ballet Company.  She is currently performing in SLEEPING BEAUTY at the Civic Theatre in downtown San Diego.
The Playbill Collector (TPC): When did you first start dancing?
Amanda Daly (AD): I took my first class when I was four years old. I have an older sister who also dances, so I’ve been around ballet since I was born. I used to watch her classes and rehearsals all the time, and I even got to participate in some company shows from a very young age. My first show with the California Ballet Company was “Alice in Wonderland” when I was four years old. I played the “small” Alice, and the Dormouse in the tea party scene.
 
TPC: When did you start working with the California Ballet Company?
AD: I was trained at the California Ballet School, and I joined the corps de ballet in 2007. I was just 17 years old, so I was pretty excited when I got my contract. I had been performing with the company for years, but becoming an official company member was a great moment. I remember moving into the company dressing room; it was very intimidating!
 
TPC: What role are you playing in SLEEPING BEAUTY?
AD: I am playing a few different roles. In the Prologue I play the Fairy of Eloquence, who is nicknamed the “canary fairy”, because the music for her variation is a very high, fast flute solo. It’s one of my favorite roles, because the variation is so energetic and full of joy. She is definitely the odd fairy out; all the others are graceful, regal, and controlled, and she gets to flit and flutter around with a big smile on her face.
 
I am also doing a few of the corps de ballet roles. In the first act I am part of the garland dance, which is fun, but the garlands are sort of enormous, so I’m just trying not to hit anyone. In the second act, I am one of the forest nymphs in the vision scene. That role is probably the most challenging, because there are a lot of moments when we have to just hold poses. The longest one is about two minutes long, so there is definitely some cramping going on. 
 
In the third act, I am alternating into the role of Little Red Riding Hood. This is another fun variation, because I basically get to be a cartoon character. The variation calls for very exaggerated acting; I do a lot of big, innocent smiles, and wide-eyed gasping. I think it’s fun in a big, famous ballet to get to be a little silly. 
 
amandadalyp1TPC: I’ve also been told you are also a rehearsal assistant for the show, what does that entail?
AD: My job as the rehearsal assistant is to learn the choreography for a scene from a video, and then to teach it in rehearsal. I also am involved in the “cleaning” process, in which all the very small details are set for the dancers. I never realized just how detailed ballet choreography has to be! For any given step, there are several different ways you can hold your head, different pathways for your arms, different heights your leg can be. Setting these details is crucial when there are sixteen dancers doing the same choreography; every little detail has to match in order for it to look seamless and magical.
 
This job has given me some insight into the kinds of artistic and technical choices that must be made when teaching a ballet. You really have to decide what kind of look you are trying to achieve. You can try to stay very true to the original style and steps of Marius Petipa, or you can decide to bring some more contemporary style and technique to the ballet, but it all has to be cohesive. Helping to set this ballet has been an amazing learning experience for me. 
 
TPC: Most of us know SLEEPING BEAUTY from Disney.  Is your portrayal of this show as whimsical and light or is it more dark and intense?
AD: This ballet is definitely one of the more whimsical ones. it is very colorful, and the music is very bright and energetic. There aren’t many similarities in terms of how the characters look, but the audience will recognize a lot of the music from the Disney version!
 
TPC: How large is the cast?
AD: There are about 25 company dancers in the cast, and maybe 15 younger dancers between the ages of nine and sixteen that do various smaller roles, such as pages, peasants, and Carabosse’s demons. We are also bringing in three guest artists to perform some of the principal roles.
 
TPC: What is the most exciting element of the show for you?
AD: For me, the most exciting part of performing in a full-length ballet is the experience of dancing through the entire show. It’s a bit of a marathon, with lots of costume, hair, and shoe changes between some very challenging dancing. Once the overture music starts, you know it’s going to be about two and a half hours before you truly get to relax. It can be a little nerve-wracking, but I love the feeling of getting through a whole ballet.
 
TPC: What is your favorite role you’ve ever done?
AD: Dancing the Fairy of Eloquence has definitely been the most fun I’ve had in rehearsals. I also like performing the Arabian variation in THE NUTCRACKER, and dancing as a Wili in GISELLE.
 
TPC: What is your dream role?
AD: I really enjoy dramatic roles, so I think it would be amazing to perform as Giselle, or as Juliet in ROMEO AND JULIET. Giselle has a great mad scene in the first act, and the second act has some of my favorite ballet music. Juliet speaks for itself, I think. You don’t really get more dramatic and tragic than Juliet. One of my favorite parts of being a ballet dancer is the acting, so those roles really appeal to me because of that.
For more information on the ballet, check out: http://www.californiaballet.org/sleeping-beauty/

 

 

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