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Luke Ingham on dancing at San Francisco Ballet

By Rebecca Martin.

Luke Ingham isn’t your average male ballet dancer. He likes beer and barbecues and spending time on the family farm in regional Australia.

A graduate of The Australian Ballet School, Luke danced with the Australian Ballet with partner (former Principal Artist) Danielle Rowe. They relocated to the United States at the beginning of 2011 and together joined Houston Ballet under the directorship of fellow Australian Stanton Welch. Last year, Luke fulfilled his dream of dancing with San Francisco Ballet where he is now a soloist.

Currently on summer break from work with San Francisco Ballet, Luke has been travelling with Rowe around the U.S. and returned home to Australia to catch up with family and friends. Dance Informa caught up with Luke to talk about his career and his new life in the states.

You started life on a farm in the country in Australia. How did you get into dancing?

My mum studied ballet as a child and when I was three I found a pair of her old ballet shoes that she had kept. I was curious about the shoes and about dance, so she told me that if I still wanted to try ballet when I turned five she would take me to a ballet class. I didn’t forget and my mum kept her word and hesitantly took me along to a ballet class. I loved it and ballet has been a part of my life ever since!

Luke Ingham, San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Ballet dancers Luke Ingham and Sara Van Patten in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Within the Golden Hour’. Photo by Erik Tomasson. Photo source:

Where would you rather be, on stage or on the farm?

That’s actually a hard question… The stage and the farm are both places that mean a great deal to me. The stage allows me to lose myself in different characters, tell stories and showcase the technique I work so hard to perfect. Whereas the farm has this way of bringing me down to earth and enables me to escape the day-to-day grind of ballet.

You left The Australian Ballet to join Houston Ballet and now dance with San Francisco Ballet. What was the hardest part about leaving Australia?

Saying goodbye to my family and friends was definitely the hardest part about leaving Australia. Despite being so far away, I feel comforted knowing that they are there and that distance does not change true friendship and the bond of family.

What are some of the differences you notice between Australian and American dancers?

Australian male dancers have a reputation for being great partners and Australian dancers in general have a certain articulate and concentrated style and modest way of working that is uniquely their own.

American ballet companies are very open to employing dancers from all over the world, which exposes their dancers to a variety of styles and techniques. There is a fearlessness, energy and determination amongst most American dancers that is infectious and individuality is cultivated and encouraged.

Tell us about an average week with San Francisco Ballet.

SFB’s season runs quite differently to most ballet companies. We rehearse all our upcoming programmes from July through till November, perform Nutcracker throughout December, and then perform solidly from January through till May. We also tour internationally at least once a season. An average week is dependent on the time of the season, however there are some constants… morning class, Pilates, gym and of course, rehearsals and performances.

What’s your favourite American food? Favourite American expression? Favourite American past time?

Tex Mex and BBQ ribs. The phrase, “Would you like fries with that?” And watching American Football.

How are you managing injuries and homesickness?

Fortunately my body is feeling great at the moment (knock on wood), however after experiencing some serious injuries in the past I am super aware of keeping my body in check. Daily Pilates allows me to pinpoint areas of weakness and strengthen specific muscles in preparation for upcoming repertoire. It’s all about injury prevention! As far as homesickness… Skype is brilliant and helps a lot!

When do you plan on returning home to Australia (either to dance or retire)?

At the moment I feel very happy and fulfilled dancing with SFB. I have no immediate plans to move back to Australia to dance and certainly not to retire… I feel like I’m only just getting started!

Photo (top): Luke Ingham in John Cranko’s Onegin. Photo © Erik Tomasson.
Photo (body): Source:

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