Ballet

A Day In The Life Of… Amber Scott

Ever wanted to step into somebody else’s shoes for the day and see what life is like as a magazine editor, a professional sportsperson or corporate high-flyer..? Well, SHESAID is giving you the closest thing to your very own Freaky Friday experience with our A Day In The Life Of… series.

RELATED: A Day In The Life Of… Jordan Mercer

Name and role

Amber Scott, principal artist with the Australian Ballet

Tell us a bit about what you do?

My life as a ballerina is a combination of dedicated routine alongside a great deal of travel and performing. From the outside, a life on the stage and performing around Australia and overseas may seem glamorous, but in reality there is a hidden backstage world where all dancers work themselves to peak physical condition every day. Sweating it out in the studio for hours leads to the reward of performing when a new season opens.

When did you discover your talent? Did you always want to be a dancer?

When I was a young girl my mother noted my boundless energy and took me to creative dance classes. I loved these as it was such a fun way to express all that energy. I grew up on the Sunshine Coast QLD so being physical was such a huge part of my youth. I feel all the running, swimming and climbing I did as a youngster really helped condition my body for the life ahead. My parents took me to see Swan Lake when I was five and it was definitely an epiphany, I think that was my fated moment when I knew what I wanted to do. Along the way, the years of training and endless dedication occasionally became a bit tedious and I probably had ulterior careers such as a paediatrician or actress up my sleeve, but my true love of dance always won out!

Inspirational Women, A Day In The Life Of, Career Development, Career Advice, Ballet, Performance, Talent, Theatre

Where do you find your inspiration? Who has had the most impact on you and your career?

I have been inspired by every teacher I have been lucky enough to learn from. My first teacher Anne Fraser was so important in teaching me the pure beauty of classical technique. Eileen Tasker from the National TheatreBallet school in Melbourne gave me the courage to go for it and try new steps and even if they weren’t perfect she gave me a real sense of joy in performing. Marilyn Rowe OBE, Gailene Stock CBE AM and Leigh Rowles picked me out from a room of eleven-year-olds to join their associate program and thus began my life within The Australian Ballet family. Marilyn Jones OBE directed me as young girl and taught me my first solo en pointe. I feel so lucky to have been inspired by these women from a young age. They all gave so generously of their time and shared their ballerina secrets with me. When I think of grace, kindness and humility I think of all these ladies. My mother is also a beacon of light for me. She gave up a lot of her dreams so I could have mine and we had so much fun learning together about this wondrous world of ballet. It’s always so special to perform when my family are in the audience. Thinking of them comforts me and makes me want to express all the joy of life when I’m onstage.

It’s not always bright lights and glory. How do you deal with the challenges and down times?

The toughest times have been when I have been off because of an injury, or having to dance through pain because of one. It is par for the course in our line of work and fortunately we have a brilliant medical team to guide us through these times and keep us strong. I certainly wouldn’t have lasted this long without their care! Sometimes early in my career the amount of shows our company perform each year (160+) would really wear me down and even though we would be performing beautiful works, the grind would be really hard to push through. Looking back I can see how all those years of pushing through endless corps de ballet roles really gives you the grit you need to have longevity in this career.

What role has had the most effect on you? Tell us a bit about your latest projects…

I think the role of Odette in both Graeme Murphy’s and Stephen Baynes’ versions of Swan Lake have had the biggest impact on my career. It was my first big break when David McAllister asked me to be Odette when I was 21. I still feel so grateful for that leap of faith he took in me, it was terrifying and wonderful all at once! I still am dancing that role and growing with the ballet each year we perform it. I think I will always be learning more about her character. The other special Odette moment was when Stephen Baynes said I would be in his premiere cast for a new traditional version. I was a principal artist at that point, terrified all over again but so humbled to be stepping into that iconic ballerina role. I love the score of Swan Lake and always find this motivates the emotions I feel for the ballet.

A Day In The Life Of, Inspirational Women, Career Development, Career Advice, Life Advice, Ballet, Theatre, Performance, Talent

Your workdays are much more exciting than the average 9 to 5. When you’re preparing or performing, what does a typical day involve?

My workday is certainly not the usual 9-5 but it also varies a great deal depending on our performance schedule. Over years of late theatre nights I am certainly not a “morning person”! Because of this I tend to push back waking up until 8am and then dawdle over breakfast. chores and emails at home. After a stop off at a local café for a flat white I get to work about 9:45am to warm up for class.

Class is generally a similar affair each day. We begin at the barre to warm and stretch our bodies and gradually the intensity increases to include turns and jumping in the centre of the room. After a 15-minute break it’s back into the studio for two and a half hours of whatever ballet is coming up. At the moment there are four different ballets being rehearsed so it is a typically busy time at the Australian Ballet. If it is a show day we will stop at 3pm to rest, eat and maybe get some physio before heading to the theatre at 5pm to put make-up on and prepare for the 7:30pm performance. After a big show I like to jump in the ice buckets up to my knees to combat any swelling or muscle soreness the next day. Then it’s time to go home and have a late dinner, usually an omelette or leftover pasta, around 11pm. Not ideal dietary advice but I prefer to relax and eat dinner after the show so I don’t feel queasy during pas de deuxs! On the days when we don’t perform I keep rehearsing after lunch till 6:30pm and then head home to cook dinner or catch up with friends and family if I can. I love cooking, it’s one of my favourite ways to unwind at the end of the day. The Ugg boots go on and then it’s straight to the kitchen to try a new recipe out with my boyfriend. Actually he is more of a “recipe” person and a great cook. I tend to make up dishes depending on what we have in the house. Luckily he is always very encouraging of my experimentation!

A Day In The Life Of, Inspirational Women, Career Development, Career Advice, Life Advice, Ballet, Theatre, Performance, Talent

What are your goals for the future?

My most immediate goal for the future is to give my all to performing Aurora and Lilac Fairy in David McAllister’s new production The Sleeping Beauty. I am loving revisiting both these roles and re-interpreting them with a more mature approach. There have been many rewarding hours spent with David and our Ballet Mistress Fiona Tonkin helping me develop my interpretation. The staff of the company spend so much time with us, they see us at our best and worst, I always feel so lucky to be able to be completely honest in the studio with them.

In the distant future, I would like to study health science and continue learning about human anatomy which is something I am currently studying online. I think it will tie in really well with my ballet background and hopefully enable me to give back to the artform in some way in the future. Of course, I hope to keep dancing as long as possible and hopefully revisit some of my favourite roles such as Tatiana in Onegin, and Manon. Beyond that, I daydream of travels to Europe, having a family, a garden, and staying happy and healthy.

What advice would you give to someone following the same path as you?

As advice for someone wanting to be a ballerina I can only offer advice based on my own experience. I think if I was speaking to myself as young person I would say, be patient and be kind to yourself. It’s natural for dancers to be very self-critical but if you spend so much energy focussing on the negative you lose that feeling of joy and escapism that dance can offer. I would also say to embrace your uniqueness. Forget about lack of physical symmetry, stiff joints, not being flexible enough, and celebrate your strengths. The audience doesn’t want to see all that worry, they want to be swept away into another world.

A Day In The Life Of, Inspirational Women, Career Development, Career Advice, Life Advice, Ballet, Theatre, Performance, Talent

Amber will be performing in The Australian Ballet’s upcoming contemporary triple bill, 20:21. The show in Sydney will run from 5th – 21st of November. For tickets head to www.australianballet.com.au

September 9, 2015

The Barre Method: The Workout Keeping Celebs In Shape

If you’re looking for a new workout class to try, we’ve got the perfect one for you! While it’s not quite the ballet slippers and tutus that you had when you were little, the Barre Method is a serious workout that will have you trim and toned in no time.

RELATED: 5 Winter Sports To Join This Season

Celebrities have been a driving force in the popularity of Barre classes, with Natalie Portman, Margot Robbie and Taylor Swift endorsing the workout method as the one that keeps them looking amazing. The elongating and isometric moves create leaner and lengthier muscles that look fabulously toned – do you ever wonder how Madonna keeps her incredible bod? Not to mention ballet dancer Misty Copeland’s amazing figure!

The Barre Method is a fantastic workout for your whole body. By incorporating small weights, the arms and upper body are toned, while the abs, butt and legs get a killer workout from isometric moves. You’re sure to feel the burn!

ballet, workout

The Barre Method is often a mix of ballet and barre work, and yoga or pilates, adding in high reps of small movements to really work those muscles and target areas of the body that can be hard to shape.

Of course, weight loss is going to be the number one reason to start up Barre classes – especially if you’re doing a cardio Barre class – but it also has a great impact on your posture by strengthening the muscles of the back that hold you upright. You will also see an increase in muscle definition, meaning stronger and more toned muscles that make you look leaner, plus the added benefit of increased flexibility and reduced stress.

Doing a Barre workout combines strength and cardio into one, while your core is constantly engaged to really fire up the abdominals. It also helps with grace and balance, which can help your poise in everyday life, not just your workouts.

There are many variations of the ballet inspired workout that are all about sculpting your long, lean body, so check out a Barre class in your area today – no tutus required.

Images via mybodyequation.com, lifestyle.com.au

June 18, 2015

Benefits Of The Barre: Ballet For Beginners

Whoever said that ballet is just for kids has another thing coming! Barre classes are one of the trendiest new workouts developed in the last few years, which doesn’t mean they’re easy to do.

They help to promote flexibility by building up your inner core muscles, and even mix pilates and yoga training as well. But what is it about the barre, and what can if offer you in terms for an all-body workout?

RELATED: Check out the 5 New Workouts You Should Try here

No experience required

Barre classes don’t require any former experience, since they teach you everything you need to know in-class. The specially qualified instructors will carefully guide you through each step, and work on your strengths and weaknesses as the classes develop. Great for anyone who is just starting out, or even those who have some ballet background, which will make it easier to get into position.

All-body workout

Just like yoga and pilates, the barre offers a complete body workout – which is fantastic bang for your buck. After each class, you will feel that almost every bone in your body has had a proper workout. Stretch well beforehand to avoid causing any damage to your muscles!

Any age

You don’t have to be at a certain age or fitness level to begin barre classes. If you feel like you’re lagging behind, the instructors can easily change the exercises to your own personal fitness level.

Flexibility

One particularly attractive aspect about the barre is that it increases your flexibility over time. This is due to the repetitive exercises (just like ballet), which help to strengthen your muscles without hurting your joints.

Tone your body

If you’re looking for a way to tone up and don’t know where to begin, then barre is one of the best workouts at the moment. Not only will it keep you engaged throughout the duration of the class, but encourages blood flow and will give your body a sudden burst of energy. It’s even easy to tone those traditionally difficult places such as the tummy and inner thighs.

Fast results

If you’re planning on taking bare classes more than 2 times a week, you can expect to see results within the first month. Of course it’s always best to pair a workout routine with a relatively clean eating schedule, since this will have you feeling great on the inside and out. You will begin to notice changes in your posture, arms, back, and even flatter ab muscles.

Would you ever try a barre workout?

Image via Renaissance Pilates Red Bank

September 28, 2014

Fitness Trend: The Barre Workout

The latest fitness craze is a ballet-inspired workout aimed at strengthening your core and helping sculpt a long, lean figure with the aid of a ballerina’s best friend – the barre. While the popular training method first appeared in the 1950s, it has returned to the mainstream with celebrities like Madonna and Kelly Ripa paving the way for a new generation.

If you don’t think Madonna is sufficient testimony to the benefits of the barre, here are few extra reasons you might want to try it out:

1.  Whole-body benefits

For those who think the barre workout is a gentle alternative to other types of training, think again. Barre boasts results in strength, tone, flexibility, posture, balance and co-ordination. Barre disciples often talk about “shaking” during a workout. Shaking will happen when your muscles are exhausted, ultimately making them easier to mold and stretch. When you finish, you will feel the burn in your abs, legs, arms and seat, like you’ve just finished a marathon. However, keep it up and you will see your body take the lean, toned form of a ballerina.

 2. Diversity

Barre fitness is the perfect antidote to workout boredom. While it draws upon ballet-basics, elements of weight training, yoga and Pilates are also incorporated into the routine. Typically, an hour-long workout will include a warm-up, weight exercises, barre exercises, floor work and stretching. Not only is the workout diverse and exciting, it is also appropriate for a range of different body shapes, fitness levels and abilities. It is also unique in its feminine form. You can enjoy the benefits of a strenuous workout, but without the huffing and puffing associated with cardio-intensive exercises.

3. You can do it from home

The great thing about barre fitness is that you don’t need a barre to do it! As I’ve mentioned, there is a range of other elements in the workout that don’t require the barre, such as weight lifting and floor work. For the few exercises that do require assistance, you can substitute a barre for a stable chair or ledge. There is also range of barre DVDs available to guide your home workout.

Image via Core Studio

July 24, 2014