Lucy Balfour podcast

013: Lucy Balfour, Ballerina at Rambert on performance, competition and motherhood

Lucy Balfour is a leading dancer at the world renowned contemporary dance company Ballet Rambert. Lucy trained at the International Ballet Academy in Christchurch, then spent ten years with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, before joining Rambert. In this episode, Lucy talks about the competitiveness of becoming a ballerina, the singular focus on realising her dream, with no back up plan. She talks about the pressure of selection and performing, maintaining self-identity throughout balanced by the privilege of being a dancer.
Lucy is pregnant and gives an insight how Rambert have been supporting her to continue to rehearse and perform (Lucy performed on stage with Rambert up to 5 months pregnant) and now looks ahead with the question of whether she’ll return to dance once she becomes a mum.

In this episode, I had the privilege of speaking with Lucy Balfour, a renowned dancer with Ballet Rambert. Lucy’s journey started at the International Ballet Academy in Christchurch, continued with a ten-year stint at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and now she’s making waves at Rambert. She opened up about the fierce competition in ballet, her single-minded focus on achieving her dream without a backup plan, and the ups and downs she’s faced in selection and auditions.

Lucy also touched upon her current pregnancy and how Rambert has been incredibly supportive, allowing her to perform on stage until she was five months pregnant. We also delved into what the future might hold for her as a dancer and a soon-to-be mother. Throughout the discussion, Lucy maintained that dance, while demanding, is a privilege she holds dear.

She provided invaluable advice for aspiring performers, emphasized the importance of resilience and learning from rejection, and shared her thoughts on life after giving birth. With a unique perspective on the world of dance, Lucy offered insights that could serve as a guide for anyone looking to excel in the performing arts.

Details of the Supporting Champions Conference are

5:50 Lucy’s journey into dance
7:00 Decision ballet school or high school?
7:55 First ballet contract with The Royal New Zealand ballet company
9:28 Focus, rejection, perseverance and belief: developing resilience
11:15 No plan B
12:50 Dealing with rejection
14:19 Advice for the 16 year old Lucy Balfour
15:25 The day in a life for a dancer at the Rambert Dance Company
20:18 Coping with the ups and downs of the selection/audition process
21:20 Stay alert use rejection as a learning opportunity, learning from your peers without the pressure! Staying aware of your behaviour
22:25 Getting in the right place for a new performance: preparing physically and mentally, writing down corrections in a training diary and not being afraid to ask lots of questions
27:15 Late specialisation
29:48 Pregnancy and performance
33:00 Life after the birth
36:27 Dancing whilst pregnant
37:50 Facing the prospect of being a dancer and a mum
41:50 Viewing ballet through a different set of eyes which will help in the future, learning more about the craft of ballet
42:41 The length of a ballet career – it’s not about age, it’s about desire and physicality
43:42 Dancer’s Career Development – thinking ahead
45:00 Wanting to inspire others, an ambassador for dance mamas and helping others to realise their potential at an earlier age
47:17 Top tips for a career in the performing arts
49:02 Instagram – lucybalfour.dancer; Twitter – @rambertdance;

A big thank you to Lucy McCrudden of Dance Mama (a company dedicated to supporting parents of children in the performing arts) for introducing me to Lucy

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