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Lauryn Summerley
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Dance International
Written by: L. Summerley

1. Name, Surname, Age
Lauryn Summerley, 28

2. Where are you originally from and what is your Current location / Dance company?
Johannesburg I am a Senior Soloist with The South Africa Ballet Theatre

3. When and where did you start dancing?
I started modern dance at age 6 and ballet age 10 with Lynne Fouch in Johannesburg

4. How did it happen that you started dance classes?
My two older sisters danced and I wanted to be just like them!

5. What good memories do you have as a child regarding your dance classes?
I remember enjoying the jumps or enchainments jumping felt like flying.

6. In how many dance forms did you receive formal training and what are they?
Ballet, Spanish dance and contemporary dance.

7. What do you love most about being a member of a Dance Company?
I love what happens behind-the-scenes the secret laughs, the many funny stories. We have a lot of fun backstage but we know when to be serious and focus on the task at hand. Laughing sometimes help relieve the stress.

8. What have you learned from other dancers during your career so far?
Artistry is something you learn by watching watching watching! I am inspired by the many great artists who I have shared the studio with as well s those I watch on DVD or see on the stage. I have learnt that all dancers have their individual strengths and weaknesses One can learn so much by watching other dancers and I have been inspired through watching and working with several great artists over the years. I learn a lot through watching other dancers who are finding a particular step or choreographed section a challenge. It helps me to see how they work through the problem and resolve it.

9. Dancers train really hard. What does your typical schedule look like. How many hours do you normally practice per day / week?
We start at 10h00 daily and end around 18h00. I try to come in early to start warming up. The rehearsal schedule varies according to what production we are working towards. If its Swan Lake then we all know its going to be a long day! I do corps de ballet, Soloist and Principal roles so my work load is generally pretty full.

10. How do you prepare mentally before each performance?
I use class to settle my nerves and to find my centre. Doing my hair and make up also calms me and I like to be on stage early so that I can the fell of it and practice a few tricky steps. If I practice a step before one performance, then I make sure I practice that same step before every other performance during the season!

11. How do you feel just before you go on stage?
I always have butterflies but as soon as the performance starts, I am fine.

12. What is your message to youngsters who are serious about dancing?
Believe in yourself and dont allow others to bring you down.

13. What is your message to parents of dancing kids?
Be supportive when they are succeeding and when they are not.

14. In today's world, people expect instant results. Even though some dancers have only had a few years' training and are very successful, is it possible to experience overnight success as a dancer?
I think you do get rare people who are born with all the required facilities to make a great dancer but we all start at the bottom. Some just move through the ranks quicker than others.

15. How do you feel about a dress code for a dance class? For example: If you were to go horse riding, you would need to wear specific clothing and protective wear, created especially for horse riding. Is it beneficial for dancers and teachers if students dress neatly for class?
Dance gear is designed to keep us warm at the barre when we move to the centre of the room, we strip down to freer, close- fitting leotards and tights. This helps the teacher see the body and correct faults.

16. If you did not become a professional dancer, what other career would you have chosen?
I am also interested in history and architecture but am not sure what else I would have chosen to do. Ballet is my passion!

17. If you could stay anywhere in the world... but South Africa, where would that be and why?
Anywhere in Europe I love the history but I would also like to try living in an exciting city like New York!

Image Credits: John Hogg


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