Adieu from The Australian Ballet’s Danielle Rowe.
After ten years as a principal dancer with The Australian Ballet, Danielle Rowe is leaving our shores for a Senior Artist appointment at the Houston Ballet in 2011. Paul Andrew spoke briefly to Danielle about a decade of memories.
Danielle tell me a little about your Houston Ballet appointment?
I’ll be joining Houston Ballet in January, 2011 and dancing in Stanton Welch's 'Marie', a full-length ballet about Marie Antoinette. I'm excited to begin work with a company that is completely new to me. I’m at a stage in my career where I’m ready for a fresh working environment and new challenges.
And working alongside your partner too?
Luke and I feel very fortunate to be taking this next step in our careers together. Packing up our lives in Australia and moving to a new continent seems a little less daunting knowing that we'll be supporting each other. We make a good team.
What do you think you will miss most about Australia?
I‘ll miss the long, lazy BBQs with friends, the beautiful beaches, the variety of fresh food and of course my mum and my sister.
Saying goodbye to a beloved company and beloved colleagues - it's one of life's difficult choices - how does it feel at the moment and what will you miss?
I’m extremely proud to have been a member of The Australian Ballet, and yes, it was a difficult decision to leave such a wonderful company. I have such mixed feelings at the moment. One part of me is excited about what the future holds but the other part feels a little apprehensive about leaving the familiarity and security of The Australian Ballet family. I’ll miss the little things like chatting and laughing while I warm-up for class and sharing special moments on stage with my friends.
Ten years at The Australian Ballet, tell me about your most fondly remembered roles?
One of my all time favourite ballets is Jiri Kylian's Bella Figura. I danced this ballet in my second year with the company. The music, lighting, staging and of course, the movement, created a completely unique atmosphere on stage. I’ll always remember how proud I felt to dance in such an exquisite ballet.
Another highlight was playing the role of The Ballerina in Jerome Robbin's The Concert. It was refreshing to play a comical character and I relished in the opportunity to poke fun at myself!
Possibly the most dramatically rewarding character I've played is the Baroness Von Rothbart in Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake. I’ve had the opportunity to develop the character over a number of years. Each time I dance the role I’m able to add further layers to her character. I’ve performed the Baroness during The Australian Ballet's recent international tours, a highlight being opening night in Paris in 2008. I‘ve also performed the role alongside Madeleine Eastoe and Robert Curran for ABC TV’s simulcast and DVD.
Tell me about two of your most memorable duets?
A few years ago The Australian Ballet performed Jiri, a program which featured three of Jiri Kylian's works. In the piece Stepping Stones, I danced with the amazing Steven Heathcote. His sensitive, relaxed nature had a wonderfully calming effect on me and taught me how to be patient and trust myself. It was a memorable experience and one that I will always hold dear to my heart.
Another of my favourite partners - is my real life partner - Luke Ingham. We recently danced together in Graeme Murphy's The Silver Rose which is a ballet that relies heavily on the emotional connection between the dancers. Luke has always been a strong and assured partner, but what I loved most about dancing with him in The Silver Rose was his ability to reveal a truly vulnerable and sensitive side to his dancing. I remember looking at him during a particularly intimate scene and I had to fight back tears because of the way he was looking at me. I know it sounds corny, but it's true!
And the costumes that you have worn during this time, is there one in particular that will stay in your memory forever?
My most treasured costume is the tutu I wore in George Balanchine's Ballet Imperial. The elegantly regal design in royal blue trimmed with gold was the work of my favourite costume designer Hugh Coleman. I felt like a true ballerina each time I wore it. It’s also special to me because I was dressed in the Ballet Imperial tutu when I was promoted to Principal Artist after a performance in 2008.
Music, you have danced to such extraordinary composers and compositions/orchestras over this time?
True. The most beautiful piece of music I’ve ever danced to is 'Spiegel Im Spiegel' composed by Arvo Part. This piece of music was the inspiration for the final pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon's After The Rain. The simplicity of the single piano and violin creates an air of serene tranquillity that takes my breath away. I can listen to it over and over and it never fails to stir up my emotions. It’s an absolute pleasure to dance to.
And theatres, is there a stage that has a fond and distinctive memory for you?
Théâtre Du Châtelet in Paris will always be a venue that I remember fondly. Performing on that stage for the opening of Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake was a night that I will treasure forever. To dance in a theatre so beautiful and rich in history is every ballerina's dream and I feel very fortunate to have experienced that.
What wisdom would you offer a young dancer determined for a long career in dance?
It’s well known that to become a professional dancer with a long career requires sacrifice, focus and determination. But my advice is that balance, perspective and variety should be an essential part of any young dancer’s life. It enables them to be well equipped to make difficult decisions and have a career that is not only fulfilling but enjoyable as well.
Top Right - Danielle Rowe. Photo - James Braund