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Laurretta Summerscales on...ENB's Cinderella

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British dancer Lauretta Summerscales is the 'baby' of the English National Ballet but already she is being compared to the great Darcy Bussell.  This followed her first principal role on the eve of her 19th birthday, playing Giselle at the London Coliseum. She arrives in Manchester next week, playing the role of The Fairy Godmother in Michael Corder's highly acclaimed production of Cinderella for ENB.

Being hailed as the new Darcy Bussell must be flattering or is it slightly distracting?

Flattering. I never saw her dance live, although I wish I had! I know she was very good, an amazing technician. I met her once, she was really nice, I did see her dance Viva La Diva which was a great show, but she was an amazing ballet dancer, and I would have loved to see her dance Juliet.
You danced the role of Myrtha, Queen of The Wilis, in Giselle at the London Coliseum with two days notice. That must have been nerve racking or was a challenge you welcomed?
When I was first told I was excited. Then a couple seconds later I thought Oh my Goodness, I need to practice I'm not ready. for the next two days I was very nervous, when I was putting my makeup on for a normal show, I wondered how I would feel for the big show. I think on the day I had no nerves left, and It turned to excitement. I also got some tips from other dancers. Sarah McIlroy one of our Principals. told me "Audiences don't care how you feel - just give them a great performances." I still remember that! And that's what I tried to do. I was very happy with my performance, it wasn't perfect but I was happy. Afterwards I was energised, and couldn't believe what I'd done, and talking to people afterwards they couldn't believe it too!
You are a big believer in getting young people into ballet. What do you think the industry has done to tackle this so far and what more can be done?
My mum is a ballet teacher, so It was easy to start ballet classes, at first it was a hobby and grew from them. then it was a choice between musical theatre and ballet, I love the variety of dance in musical theatre, classical ballet is just one style, but in the end I chose ballet. I think these days teachers have to go through a very academic training process, so perhaps teachers who have a natural flare for teaching and are very creative, but aren't academic don't make it which is a shame, as enthusiasm and talent are the most important thing for a teacher to have.

What do you think of Matthew Bourne's style of ballet? Would you call it ballet or dance?  
I really like the style, it is classical, you need classical training. But it is also very contemporary. I don't have the right style to do this, also his ballet's tend to focus on the male characters which is great, but for me I like to be the dancers who stands out, there are lots of great female roles in classical ballet
What is your favourite scene/dance in Cinderella?
I like the moment with the clock strikes 12, building to a climax. everything moves faster, and you have to really concentrate about being on the right beat and staying in line. I also like the end of the ballet when the stars come out again, it's not really vital for the story but I find it really enjoyable, and I love the music and because you're dancing as part of a group you can really dance for yourself and for the audience they can see you're enjoying yourself.

What does this ballet offer first time visitors to the art form and fans of the genre?
Comedy. The comedy is a really big part of the ballet, and it's quite rare for their to be so much comedy in a ballet. And when you get great dancers doing the roles it's really entertaining. It's particularly good, as it's not mocking ballet, as the technique is very hard.
What do you enjoy about performing the most?
I like being a different person, stepping into someone else's shoes. I also like the challenge of performing, being good every single time you go on stage. You can also release your feelings in a ballet, you can turn a bad day or a good day into being expressive on stage, put whatever you feel into the performance.  I always prefer solo work, you can let yourself go much more and don't have to worry about being in line!
How do you relax? 
I watch TV, I like dramas where you need to think, like Criminal Minds, House and Lost. Although I also like girlie things like Desperate Housewives. I also sketch and paint when I can, I used to do more when I was at school, I work best when I have a project!
What are your plans following Cinderella? 
I'll be dancing at the Royal Albert Hall in June. I'd love to dance Lead Swans, and the pas de douze, both of which I'm learning. It's always best to assume you won't get to dance, and then for it to be a surprise, rather than be disappointed you didn't get to. My big ambition would be to dance Juliet, that's my favourite role!

Laurette Summerscales was speaking to Glenn Meads

ENB's Cinderella is at the Palace Theatre from 21 - 24 April and can be booked here.


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