A dancer’s ballet bag includes more than just the physical items they bring to their day-to-day classes and rehearsals. Their bag also include the lessons they’ve learned, personal exercises or relaxation techniques, and the tips and tricks they share with the next generation of dancers. Getting ready for a performance can be an especially stressful time. Between costumes and makeup, stretching and warm-ups, and reviewing choreography, each dancer has their own routine that helps them settle into their role on stage. We asked one of our professional dancers what she keeps in her internal, mental ballet bag and how she uses that to get performance ready!
Amanda Hill attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia as a ballet major on presidential scholarship and graduated with honors. She has performed with the Pennsylvania Ballet in their productions of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker and joined the company on their tour to the National Arts Center in Ottawa, Canada. After graduating college, Amanda joined BalletFleming in Philadelphia, where she danced for three seasons. She danced principal roles in many of their productions including the title role in Snow White. Amanda joined Brandywine Ballet in 2016 and has since been featured in our productions of Colour Brillanté and in The Nutcracker as the Snow Queen and Dew Drop Fairy.
Amanda tells us -
“I have dreamt of being a ballet dancer for as long as I can remember, and I am so lucky that I was able to make ballet into my career. I absolutely love being on stage, but it can be nerve wracking. Most professional dancers I know have specific rituals they like to follow when they are performing, myself included. The more obvious rituals include warming up, getting costumes ready, putting on makeup, etc. But we all have our own strange quirks as well - for me that starts with usually being one of the first people to arrive at the theatre. Nothing makes me more nervous than running late or rushing. I like to have plenty of time to slowly go through my routine. I also have a special warm-up sweater that I always have with me in the theatre, which is probably one of my more specific quirks.
Besides that, I use theatre week to establish a routine specific to the show and the parts I am dancing. I always like to make sure I can find a little quiet space before I perform to meditate on what I am about to do. I find that taking that time to calm my brain and surround myself in positive energy really makes a difference in how I feel when I’m dancing. So, if you see me standing in a quiet hallway by myself with my eyes closed, you’ll know what I’m doing! After I take that time, I’ll head upstairs to the wings to briefly go over my choreography and re-warm up. Right before I go onstage, I always “shake it out”. Basically, I stand in the wings and shake my whole body. It looks a little crazy but it really helps to get those last minute nerves out. Once I get onstage I try my best to not think! If I get too much in my own head I always mess up. Thinking is for rehearsals, in a performance you have to be completely in the moment, in your character, and in the music!”
Amanda is excited to be a part of Nancy Page’s new adaptation of Beauty & The Beast, coming this May 19-21 to West Chester. You don’t want to miss her dancing in a featured role as a part of Brandywine Ballet. Tickets are on sale now!