By Dolce Fisher.
It’s been about two and a half years since one of Australia’s favourite ballerinas, Danielle Rowe, left Australia to dance in the US for Stanton Welch’s Houston Ballet. Rowe has now hung up her pointe shoes to embrace contemporary dance with Netherlands Dans Theater (NDT).
Recently visiting Sydney to perform with NDT at Sydney Opera House, Rowe sat down with Dance Informa’s Dolce Fisher to tell us all about her travels.
What triggered you to originally leave Australia and now Houston Ballet?
“I wanted to immerse myself in a different environment, way of working and a different way of approaching dance. I felt like I needed to hit the refresh button a bit. Career wise, I wanted to do something different after Houston. I had done a lot of ballet roles and was given a lot opportunities, so I felt quite content with the ballet side of things and I wanted a change.”
How do you find the audiences overseas?
“Australian’s are generally quite reserved. In Holland they are very quick to stand up and let you know that they like it.”
How have you found the change from practicing ballet to contemporary?
“It’s taken some adjustment! Everyday I am learning something new and discovering something about myself, but that is what I wanted! At first there were definitely moments of self-doubt! I’m still in awe of all the dancers there. It’s so great to be among such talented artists and it’s easy to feed off that!”
How do you like it working with dancers from all over the world?
“Culturally it’s so different and I really notice the different approaches to work and ways of going about things. Australians are pretty laid back and easygoing. There’s people that are a little more highly strung or dramatic, but it’s their culture and it’s not a negative thing, it just helps keep everything in perspective.”
What are some things that you have taken on board since leaving Australia?
“For me, it’s mostly that everything is a process! It could be the day, your body or the choreography. Also, right now in NDT I feel really trusted by the directors, choreographers and the ballet staff. I really feel that they believe in you and that we will do well with the work that we’ve been given, so it takes a lot of pressure off.”
What are some of the opportunities that you’ve had since joining NDT?
“I got to perform Shoot the Moon (Sol León and Paul Lightfoot) which was my first big thing with the company, and while in Sydney I also got to do Sweet Dreams (Jiří Kylián). The repertoire was one of the biggest reasons I came to NDT; to work with Paul and Sol and do their work. I think Shoot the Moon is one of their best works.”
“I’ve been able to work with Crystal Pite, which was amazing! She’s an inspiration! She’s incredibly articulate and everything is incredibly well thought out.”
How have you responded to putting the pointe shoes away?
“Yeah, it’s funny; I don’t think about it that much, only when people ask about it! It’s been a year and I don’t really miss it! But, at the same time, there is a way of working in them; you just can’t work your legs the same way without them. So sometimes I do miss that ‘worked’ feeling. I still have a few pairs and they just stare at me and say, ‘Put me back on.’ But I’m like ‘no!’” (Laughs)
Photo (top): Danielle Rowe dancing with Nederlands Dans Theater at Sydney Opera House earlier this year. Photo by Prudence Upton, courtesy of Sydney Opera House.