Any ballet enthusiast in the UK has probably seen Lauren Cuthbertson perform; at 24 she was the youngest principle dancer in the Royal Ballet. Lauren got an early start on her career and she hasn’t looked back, nor is she about to. Though she moves in some very elevated circles when it comes to ballet, at 29 years of age she is still a most down-to-earth individual with a sensible – and refreshing – outlook on life in general.
Her ‘tips’ for aspiring young ballerinas, as reported by Alison Feeny-Hart for the BBC, are worthy of note by anyone who dreams of fame and fortune in the performing arts. First, she says, one must keep one’s eye on the goal and “never look back.” Then you must be ready and willing to “work like a dog” for as long as it takes. That’s the biggest obstacle for many; they expect excellence to come easily, and it simply doesn’t.
In ballet, constant practice is essential, but Lauren suggests that some variation is also crucial; though performing ballet moves is certainly a workout, other exercises such as swimming and yoga (her preferences) stretch and tone muscles and “get the kinks out” to keep the body as supple as it needs to be.
When it comes to criticism, she says it’s important to remember that no matter how harsh it may seem, if it’s coming from someone who knows what you’re trying to learn, it’s always valuable. Just “be a tough nut” and chances are very good that your performance will improve with criticism – and you’ll find that the critic is also your best friend.
Another requirement for the best performance, at least for a ballerina and seemingly for any artist, is to “have a struggle”. A bit of hardship or even tragedy in one’s life gives depth to one’s performance. Lauren believes her struggles have made her draw on inner resources that allow her to give more of herself when she’s performing, and that’s what makes the difference between good enough and truly unforgettable.