Interview: Leticia Stock - living the Nutcracker dream

Monday 7 December 2015 by Laura Dodge

The Royal Ballet's Leticia Stock & Thomas Whitehead in rehearsal for 'The Nutcracker' ©ROH, 2015. Photo: Andrej Uspenski

Brazilian dancer Leticia Stock trained at The Royal Ballet Upper School, graduated into the Royal Ballet in 2009 and was promoted to First Artist earlier this year. In advance of her debut as Clara in The Nutcracker, she talked to Laura Dodge about stress and snowflakes, dancer discipline and Christmas in London…


I remember seeing you in rehearsal for The Nutcracker Snowflakes scene when you’d just joined the company. There are so many different patterns and directions in the choreography and you kept going the wrong way! What’s it like having to learn so many different ballets so quickly?
When you first join the company, everything feels so scary. Everything’s new and you’re trying not to be wrong or get in anyone’s way. You can get quite stressed! I’ve now been in the Royal Ballet for seven years and have done the Snowflakes dance so many times, I could probably do it in my sleep! I also try to help new company members and tell them not to worry about making mistakes in rehearsal and that they’ll get it right next time.

You’re making your debut as Clara in The Nutcracker this year – how are you finding learning the role?
I’ve done the ballet lots of times in lots of different roles, including the Mirlitons, dolls and Flowers. So I’ve seen other dancers as Clara and when I got cast in the role, I thought ‘I know it’, but when you get into the detail, it’s actually quite difficult. She’s on stage all the time and needs to be constantly excited as everything is new for her. I’m trying to make her feel fresh and find my own interpretation.

It’s a really great role. The Nutcracker is all about Clara – it’s her story. It’s so much fun getting to perform that. And I’m especially enjoying learning the beautiful pas de deux alongside Marcelino Sambé. I’m living the dream getting to dance Clara.

It sounds like you really love The Nutcracker – is it one of your favourite ballets?
It’s a really good ballet and definitely my favourite for Christmas time. I enjoy all of it – there’s lots of dancing, beautiful costumes and music, and you look and feel great performing it. It’s such a magical ballet – I think everyone should come and see it.

As a dancer, you don’t get much time off over Christmas. Is it hard to relax and enjoy yourself during the festive season?
We usually get Christmas Day and Boxing Day off and we’ve actually got an extra day this year as 27 December is a Sunday. I’ll find it quite hard to relax, as I want to do my best Clara shows. My debut is on Christmas Eve and then I’m performing again on 28 December so I’ll be doing barre and practice during the time off. But that’s ok as I’m so excited to be doing the role and I can relax after.

Excitingly, though, my whole family – my mum, dad and sister – are coming over from Brazil to see me as Clara so I’ll get to spend Christmas with them for the first time in many years!

What do you like most about Christmas in London?
The Christmas season is so busy in the Royal Ballet that I don’t get too much time to enjoy it. But I really like the December markets in Covent Garden piazza, right by the Opera House. It’s great fun going down to get food and last-minute presents!

What’s been your dancing highlight of 2015 and what are you most looking forward to next year?
My highlight this year has been doing the pas de deux in Liam Scarlett’s Viscera. I was the second time I had done it but I absolutely love that ballet. It’s such a joy, especially as I was performing with Nehemiah Kish. And of course doing Clara now is really exciting!

Next year, I’m looking forward to performing Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale again, as it’s so much fun to dance. I’m also looking forward to the new Scarlett ballet, Frankenstein. The music’s beautiful and he’s such a great choreographer so I’m really excited to see what he creates.

If you could give just one tip to a young dancer watching The Nutcracker this year, what would it be?
I would say that if they want to be a professional ballet dancer, they need to be very disciplined. You have to work hard and don’t have much time off at weekends or to see your friends. It requires a lot of discipline but if you really love dancing, it pays off when you’re onstage. The feeling is amazing.

Catch Leticia Stock as Clara on 24, 28 and 31 December

The Royal Ballet – The Nutcracker
8 December 2015 – 14 January 2016
www.roh.org.uk

Laura Dodge writes for Dancing Times, Dance Today, Londonist, Bachtrack, amongst other publications. Find her on Twitter:@Dodgedance

Photos: Leticia Stock in rehearsals for The Nutcracker, ©ROH, 2015, by Andrej Uspenski

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