Kids dream of growing to be be all manner of things -- firefighters, doctors, parents, ballerinas. Jasmin Durham grew up to be the latter.
Having started ballet at the age of three, she's now 22 and working her way to the top after joining The Australian Ballet in 2012. Nominated in the 2015 Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards, let’s take a look at her journey.
When did you know you wanted to be a ballerina?
“The moment I realised I wanted to make ballet my career was when I performed my first solo. I was 13 years old and I performed as Tinkerbell at a local eisteddfod. There was nothing I didn't love about the experience -- the hair, the make-up, the costumes, the lights. I remember the silence in the room and in my mind. That's when I knew it was right for me and it was something that I wanted to make a top priority.”
What is the rehearsal process like?
“The rehearsal process varies according to which performances we are preparing for. We take class every morning (except Sunday) at 10:30 -- which is our opportunity to warm up and refine our technique. Rehearsals then go from 12pm to 6:30pm with an hour and fifteen minute break for lunch and a few short breaks in between rehearsals (usually to change shoes). Currently we are rehearsing for a triple bill called “20:21” and David McAllister’s “The Sleeping Beauty”. For me this is an intense rehearsal period. I'm in all three pieces for the triple bill -- which is more modern ballet-based -- and also learning a few dances in “The Sleeping Beauty”. It’s hard to go from a classical ballet work in pointe shoes to a high-intensity modern work that uses opposing techniques -- all in the same day. When we are performing shows at night the rehearsals are from 12:30pm till 3pm to give us a break before the performance. I will never forget rehearsing Graeme Murphy’s “Swan Lake” during the day and performing Stephan Baynes’ “Swan Lake” at night! It was challenging and confusing at times but I never got sick of the music. Rehearsal processes are never the same, which is what makes this profession so interesting.”
How many of the ballerina stereotypes ring true?
“I feel there are many misconceptions about ballet dancers. Many people assume we are all bun-heads with extremely strict lifestyles. Don't get me wrong -- we are all disciplined and have worked unbelievably hard to get where we are but we don't always fit a certain mould or stereotype. We are all different as people and approach our work differently. Within The Australian Ballet we are all very supportive of one another as we all have similar goals -- to be genuine artists and to extend our love of dance to as many people possible. And dancers definitely eat! It is impossible to perform every night and rehearse every day if you don't eat properly. I personally want to feel fit, energetic and most importantly healthy, that is equally important to me as aesthetic.”
What is your favourite part about being in professional ballet?
“My favourite thing about being a professional ballet dancer is that I am able to do what I love for a living. Dancing is my passion and it’s something that you have to constantly work for. Dancing has always felt like an outlet. You can use your own personal experiences of heartbreak, love and frustration. It can be gentle, it can be sexy and it can be strong -- your movement can constantly evolve. Being able to be physical and artistic within my profession provides me with the passion and determination to succeed and completely commit to this art form.”
What is the biggest challenge?
“My biggest challenge is dealing with self-criticism. I've battled with insecurities all my life and am constantly finding the balance between holding on and letting go. As a dancer you are used to criticism from yourself, you are constantly searching for flaws in the mirror. Performers and artists are always hard on themselves and it’s all about knowing what works for you and how to deal with the days you don't feel good enough. I personally immediately put everything in perspective and remind myself how lucky I am to have something in my life that makes me feel so happy.”
To vote for Jasmin in the Telstra People’s Choice Award visit Telstra.com