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Archives for February 2012

Life on tour

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Francesca Tortora | 15:54 UK time, Monday, 6 February 2012

Aimee Williamson was awarded a BBC Performing Arts Fund Dance Fellowship with Ballet Cymru last year. Before becoming a full-time company member in March 2012, Aimee was invited to join the company on tour with their popular production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in the UK and Italy.

Aimee kept a diary of her experience and has shared some useful observations and tips about a dancer’s life on tour as she takes her first steps in the professional world of dance.

UK Tour: 29th November - 4th December 2011

“This week the company is going on tour, and I am joining them to get a feel for what it’s like. We are going to Stroud, Ilfracombe, Runcorn and Stourbridge, performing one night at each place. I’m looking forward to learning what it’s like to tour as I’ve never done it before. I feel that things like different theatres and stages – not to mention all the travelling – is something that will be exciting and tiring at the same time.

4th December

Yesterday afternoon I found out I was performing that evening! I was so excited there was barely space in my head to feel nervous. I’ve been over the steps so many times in my head I wanted to see what it was like to do it on stage, and I was curious to see if I could pull it all off. I still didn’t know two scenes so I quickly learnt them before the show. I never thought the first time I’d be dancing my part would be for a performance! Everyone was helpful and encouraging and even whispered to me about where I was going next when I wasn’t sure.

I’ve performed it again tonight, and I enjoyed it so much. The stage at the last place was raked (slanted forwards). I had never danced on a raked stage before but Amy (Assistant Artistic Director) said the only thing that is made more difficult is pirouettes. So if you ever find yourself on a raked stage you just need to raise your eye line a bit, and for pirouettes hold your arms a bit higher.


Picture of Aimee Williamson jumping

Aimee Williamson

Italy Tour: 13th December- 21st December

13th December- Trieste

The theatre is beautiful here. I never thought I would get a chance to dance in a place like this. It’s a big opera house that seats over 1000 people and we are sold out!

I feel quite stiff after the travelling so I will make sure I do a good warm up before class. As it is easy to be caught out with so many other things on your mind, I have made the following checklist:


•    Raked stage:
     This is more commonly found in the older theatres and can make pirouettes tricky.
•    Wings:
     Make sure you run through all your entrances and exits.
•    Space around the back of the stage:
     What is your route from one side to the other? Do you have any fast changeovers? You can’t always go behind the curtain.
•    Lights:
     Check to see if there are any stage lights that might dazzle you and ruin a step.
•    Size of auditorium:
     If it’s a big audience, you will probably need to raise your eye line and make mime movements bigger and slower.
•    Temperature:
     Some theatres are freezing so always be prepared, bring plenty of clothes to keep you warm.

16th December – Como

Maybe it was the mood I was in but when I entered the theatre it was, in its own way, quite magical. There were technicians shouting at each other in Italian, there was someone playing a violin behind a closed door just off the stage and there was a ballet class going on in a studio upstairs. If you asked a child to draw a picture of the perfect theatre, this would be it! It was all red and gold with lots of royal boxes – it looked very regal. A view like that could never get old.

17th December – Padova

When we got to Padova we learnt that the theatre had just recently opened and that we would be the first to perform there, which is quite an honor.


•    Don’t talk, whisper if you have to. I know it is obvious but it’s easy to forget when you have other things on your mind.
•    In the wings, if you can see the audience, they can see you… and you don’t want that!
•    Don’t look down on your exits offstage – carry on the ballet!
•    Keep out of the way of any technical or prop manoeuvres.
•    Help with any quick changes etc. where you can.

19th December - Alessandria

You can sometimes, for no reason at all, suddenly feel like you have no energy. It’s bound to happen every now and again so I think the best thing you can do is eat something good, have plenty to drink and have a moment to yourself with some music or a book or something. Forget that you’re dancing for a moment and it’ll clear your head. If you relax and remind yourself that every night is going to be different, then you will see each performance as a different experience and will be more open to learning from it.”


We will catch up with Aimee again over the coming months to find out how her Fellowship is going and about her experiences as a full-time company member.

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