Interview: Spotlight On... Olivia Holland from National Youth Ballet

Thursday 1 September 2011 by Hannah Dye

Olivia Holland in rehearsal

The National Youth Ballet involves talented young dancers from all over the country in every aspect of creating a ballet, from the conception of an idea through to performance on stage at a professional level. The Company also encourages children from all walks of life to become involved through schools and community workshops. National Youth Ballet utilises the skills of students in associated arts and encourages the talents of young designers, costumiers, musicians and student teachers in the preparation and production of all their work.

This year, National Youth Ballet will present a Gala Night at Sadler’s Wells on September 11th where they will present the highlight of the season, Ballet Chocolat, a thematic work with an essence of Joanne Harris’s highly successful book and the MIramax film Chocolat. The ballet is set to the film’s delightful original score by British composer and Academy Award Winner Rachel Portman and offers young award winning choreographer, Andrew McNicol (18), a unique opportunity to stage this exciting piece.

We caught up with 18 year old Olivia Holland who is dancing principal role of the mother, Vianne in Ballet Chocolat.

Olivia first began as a gymnast before beginning taking dance lessons at the age of 8. At 11, she trained at the Royal Ballet School and is currently studying at Elmhurst School for dance in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Olivia has performed in many venues, including the Royal Opera House and the Birmingham Hippodrome. In 2011 she went on tour as part of the Birmingham Royal Ballet in David Bintley’s new production of Cinderella. As well as training for a professional career in ballet, she is also a resident artist for the website, www.balletdancersguide.com

We found out more…

What one celebrity would you invite to your Birthday party?
I would go for Jamie Oliver so my family and friends could be all treated to a luxury meal!! /mmfiles/old/images/77011f6fe107d85de586a243e9ffed1c.jpg(Olivia Holland, National Youth Ballet)!

If you had to be an animal, what would you be? **A bird – I would love to experience that true sense of freedom and flight.

If you were Prime Minister for the day what one thing would you change?
I would give more funding to the arts so we could continue to celebrate the beauty of dance and art, without being restricted by money and cuts.

Three words to describe yourself…
Passionate, driven, creative.

If you weren’t a dancer, what career would you pursue?
I can see myself being an illustrator or writer for books, as I am always writing journals and painting. I produce artwork and photographs for the website, balletdancersguide.com, so I guess this is the start of my illustration career!

Do you have any rituals before performing?
To calm the butterflies, I always visualise the performance going well in my head. I remind myself of the amazing feeling when you hear the audience’s applause at the end – your whole body is glowing with excitement.

What is the best thing about being part of the National Youth Ballet?
Having the chance to be in a professional environment – it is this valuable experience of working with great choreographers and top coaches that will set me up for my professional career. And of course the reward of performing at Sadler’s Wells Theatre is going to be incredible!

What has been the highlight of your dancing career so far?
It has to be dancing with my first professional ballet company, Birmingham Royal Ballet. It gave me a taster of what professional life is like, and has made me certain that this is the career I aspire for. But, of course performing with National Youth Ballet in Ballet Chocolat will be a definite highlight!

How are rehearsals going for your role as Vianne (the mum) in Ballet Chocolat?
I am loving it so far, it is incredible to learn how much more I can give as a dancer through characterisation and emotion. You never stop learning and discovering. I can not wait to get out on stage and express myself not just as a dancer, but as Vianne, a woman full of courage and love.

What’s next for you Olivia?
To perform and forever share my passion. Dancing has become part of who I am, so I aim to continue let myself grow both as a dancer and artist. I am driven to pursue a professional career so next year I aim to be in an established ballet company.

Ballet Chocolat will be performed at Sadler’s Wells on 11 September. The evening’s programme also includes the premiere of Feeling Groovy, cleverly choreographed by Antony Dowson who marries classical ballet with universally loved songs by Simon and Garfunkel. Alumni, Jo Meredith, returns to NYB to re-stage her acclaimed Cowardly Affair with music by Noel Coward. Other audience favourites completing the line-up include Captain Beaky and Anna Meadmore’s traditional ballet Lavender Blue which gives the youngest dancers a chance to dance.

To book tickets for National Youth Ballet at Sadler’s Wells, visit www.sadlerswells.com

For more information about National Youth Ballet and performance dates, visit www.nyb.org.uk

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