Catching up with 2016 Genée gold medallist Maeve Nolan

Maeve Nolan. Photo by Winkipop Media, courtesy of the Royal Academy of Dance.
Maeve Nolan. Photo by Winkipop Media, courtesy of the Royal Academy of Dance.

2016 Genée gold medallist and Energetiks Ambassador Maeve Nolan is already making her mark in London.

After winning gold at the Genée International Ballet Competition in Sydney, Nolan moved across the globe to take up an offer to join the English National Ballet School (ENBS). The promising young dancer has since danced as Aurora in Story Time Sleeping Beauty at The Dorchester and with the English National Ballet in its recent season of The Nutcracker.

Nolan is currently enjoying her second year with the ENBS and looking forward to what 2018 will bring. Here, she speaks to Dance Informa about life in London as an aspiring ballerina.

Congratulations on your gold medal win at the Genée International Ballet Competition! How has that changed life for you so far?

Maeve Nolan at Genée. Photo courtesy of Nolan.

Maeve Nolan at Genée. Photo courtesy of Nolan.

“Genée was such a wonderful experience, and performing on the Opera House stage was such a highlight for me! Receiving gold was such a confidence boost, as well as a door to many opportunities. Before Genée, I knew I wanted to have a career in ballet; however, as soon as we danced our first entrance as a group at the finals, I looked up at the audience clapping and said to myself, ‘Wow! This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.'”

You received offers from a number of schools following your audition tour. Why did you choose the English National Ballet School?

“My heart and my gut helped me with making the decision to join ENBS. Not only is it a great school with wonderful teachers and offers many opportunities, but I guess you know when you know, and I knew as soon as I walked in that it would be a welcoming and warm environment. I felt at home.”

What has it been like living in London? Did you find anything hard to adjust to or challenging about making the move?

“I absolutely love it! My only major challenge was missing home and family. I don’t really get homesick; I just miss particular things and people. But I have fellow Aussies over here who help me through, and overall, I think I’ve adjusted pretty well to living on my own and being away from my family.

As I started at ENBS straight after my audition tour, I was really thrown in to the deep end, and in those sort of situations, I think you have to remain positive, keep an open mind and just go for it. My first week was pretty eventful – I even ended up in the emergency room! After that, things went more smoothly, though. I’ve been fortunate to receive a lot of support from the other girls in my class and members of extended family who live over here.

Maeve Nolan. Photo courtesy of Nolan.

Maeve Nolan. Photo courtesy of Nolan.

London is a great city, with so much to do and see. We don’t get much time off, but when we do, I love exploring new places!”

What have you been working on technically and artistically since you joined ENBS?

“As I came in more than halfway through first year, I had to quickly adjust to living and dancing here. I moved up to second year in September, and have been working on corrections in my technique since then, specifically my turnout and my stamina in class. ENBS is very good at giving opportunities to its students, particularly opportunities to perform. This term, I was chosen to dance as a Snowflake with English National Ballet company’s corps de ballet for the Nutcracker season, and I also got to go with the company on its Southampton tour. It has been awesome and a real insight into company life.

As a school, we have also just finished our winter show performances, and as a year group, we will be working on our own touring season of My First Ballet: Swan Lake.”

Who have been some of your most significant mentors, and what have they each taught you?

“I’m very lucky to have been surrounded by wonderful teachers – during my early days at Dance North Academy, with Vanessa, Dani and Rebecca; later on with Miss Kate Frazer, who really believed in my dream to be a ballet dancer, and Miss Mandi Whittaker, who, through her choreography, ignited my love of performing.

More recently, Ms. Lucinda Dunn, Katie Pianoff, Wim Broeckx, Julie Wells, Jayne Beddoe and many more teachers at Tanya Pearson’s instilled in me an ethic of hard work, determination and commitment, and also helped me refine my technique and artistry.

Maeve Nolan for Energetiks.

Maeve Nolan for Energetiks.

At ENBS, I am once again surrounded by wonderful and inspiring teachers who continue to encourage and push me every day. I cannot thank them enough! Each and every one has had a significant effect on me personally, and as a dancer I am eternally grateful to them for the chance to learn from them as their student.”

What advice would you give a young dancer like yourself?

“My advice would be to work hard each and every day, listen to your teachers, and enjoy every minute! Also, don’t forget to believe in yourself, even when it gets tough. When you believe in yourself, you can do anything you put your mind to.”

What has it been like modelling for Energetiks as a Brand Ambassador? It sounds like a neat job! Do you have a favourite Energetiks item?

“It’s really cool being able to model for Energetiks. They’re so easy for me to promote, as I have always worn and loved a lot of things from the Energetiks dancewear range, and it’s easy to promote something that you love! I genuinely love their dancewear. As an Ambassador of the brand, I also enjoy the perks of meeting awesome people and getting the opportunity to work with professionals in different fields at all the photo and video shoots.

The one dance item I cannot do without would be my Energetiks pointe shoes, as they are so vital to my dancing. I feel I can do anything in them, like Dorothy in her red shoes! I also love anything from the Energetiks Merino wool collection, as they keep me warm here in London and, of course, they look good!”

A lot of dancers have certain routines they follow to get the best out of their day. Do you have any daily routines?

Maeve Nolan for Energetiks.

Maeve Nolan for Energetiks.

“When I first get up in the morning, I like to do some yoga poses to help wake me up and start my day well. When I get to the studio, I always warm up by gently stretching and opening my joints and doing my Pilates exercises to activate my muscles, particularly my core and inner thighs.

At night, I like to roll out my muscles so that they don’t become tight, either ice my feet or put a hot water bottle on my muscles, and I like to stretch and do some of my Pilates core exercises. I am working on strengthening my core, and I feel doing these exercises at night have really helped. However, if I’m really tired, I tend to back off, as it would be more beneficial to rest and let my body recover.”

What do you like to do when you’re not dancing?

“When I’m not dancing, I still like to get out and be active, so I tend to go to a yoga class and/or go swimming. I find yoga and swimming are very meditative to my mind and body and allow me to be active without putting stress on my body.”

By Grace Gassin of Dance Informa.

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