Not many people would expect a ballet dancer to be a writer in their spare time, let alone a published writer. While many dancers turn to teaching and Pilates as a hobby or the next step in their career after dance, Gemma Pearce has written and published a series of eBooks entitled “An Aspiring Ballerina’s Guide To…”
Currently the series comprises “Ballet Feet & Pointe Shoes” and “Ballet Auditions”, which are educational guides for dancers navigating the perilous world of ballet, pointe shoes and ultimately, auditions. Additionally, there is “Stories From The Ballet”, a book of stories from 11 of the world’s favourite ballets, including Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty, which is suitable for the smallest of aspiring ballerinas.
Pearce hails from Melbourne and trained with Christa Cameron and Ballet Theatre of Australia before joining Queensland Ballet. In 2009 and again in 2012, Pearce was recognized as a “Dancer to Watch.” She has since worked with Universal Ballet and Staatsoper Hannover. Dance Informa spoke with her while she was in New York:
What inspired you to begin writing?
“Over years of dancing, I’ve picked up all sorts of tips and tricks from other dancers, as well as through trial and error. I saw that there were no books that cover these ‘insiders secrets’, so I decided to compile a couple of short guides with all the information I wished I’d had when I was a young dancer. I created two very reasonably priced eBooks in the hopes that every aspiring dancer could have this information easily accessible to them.”
Can you tell us more about your books?
“At the moment there are two books in the ‘Aspiring Ballerina’s’ series. The first is dedicated to everything I’ve learned about feet and pointe shoes, from injuries and prevention to customising your own pointe shoes. There are a lot of great tips that dancers across the globe have invented out of necessity, and I have now passed them on to my readers.
The second book is all about auditions. I really hope that this book can take some of the stress out of the whole audition process for dancers, especially those travelling abroad to audition. There are so many things that I had to learn first hand by doing the wrong thing. Now readers can avoid those mistakes altogether.”
How have your experiences as a dance student and as a professional dancer allowed you to impart advice to aspiring ballerinas?
“I’ve been lucky enough to train with schools and perform with companies across all different parts of the world. I’ve trained in different styles of ballet and other forms of dance, and I’ve come across every sort of person in the ballet world from the nurturing and encouraging type to the (unfortunately all too common) egotistical and manipulative. From all these experiences, good and bad, I’ve learned something and I hope I can help others to accept and face the challenges that go along with being a dancer.”
Do you wish that you’d had similar books available to you as a dance student?
“Yes! I’ve tried and tested all sorts of things when it’s come to my feet, shoes and auditions. Let these books take some of the guesswork out of ballet for you.”
Will you be writing any more books in the future?
“I’ve considered adding books to the series, and even had some great suggestions from readers. At the moment, I’m focused on starting work with a new company, as well as completing my teacher training in Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis. But I hope to come back to the books when inspiration strikes!”
Are there any creative/artistic/expressive similarities in dance and in writing?
“I would say that there is. Just like in dancing, you can choose to reveal or hide aspects of your personality. You can be someone entirely different if you choose, and of course, the same information can be conveyed very differently from one person to the next, just as the same steps can be interpreted completely differently by different dancers. My books are mostly instructional so in that sense there is not a great deal of room for creativity, but I do feel that I write as myself and you can see a glimpse of my personality.
I have discovered that I find it easier to communicate through dance and that I also prefer to write my thoughts rather than express them aloud, so I guess that is another similarity.”
To check out Gemma Pearce’s eBooks, visit www.amazon.com. To win a FREE COPY of each book, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer to this question: Gemma Pearce is originally from what city? Please title the email “Gemma Pearce eBooks Giveaway” and include your full name and address. This competition opens September 2nd and closes October 2nd. Enter to win now!
By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Gemma Pearce. Photo by Olivia Naumov.