Recently I had the pleasure of connecting with Leanne Stojmenov, one of the principal artists of the Australian Ballet. Leanne has kindly agreed to be interviewed for BWB around her ballet experience and what it means for her.
Ballet and performing is so exposing yet it allows me to be completely myself. There is no hiding on stage. Performing is my artwork and how lucky I am to be able to share it with so many people. It really is a special profession that very few get to experience.
2. What was the hardest part about becoming a professional dancer? What obstacles did you have to overcome?
I never focused on the hardships or obstacles. Becoming a Principal dancer was something I always wanted. Everything was a process and a step towards and sometimes backward to my dream. There have been many ups and downs but it's always been worth it.
3. What inspires you to work hard/harder every day?
Ballet can be so physically and mentally challenging. This challenge is like an addiction for me. I absolutely love working in the studio to prepare for the many performances we do each year. Aside from my own passion for ballet I have a very supportive family that have been alongside me through my whole journey to becoming a Principal Artist....that inspires me each day.
4. Favourite ballet to dance?
There are so many!... I love each ballet that I get to perform from diverse Choreographers such as Balanchine to Kylian but one that really stands out for me is Swanlake. It sounds very cliche but for me the hearing the orchestra play just before I enter in act 2 always excites so many emotions for me as I begin a massive journey on stage.
I love ballets that are the music. When you hear the music and see the choreography it makes so much sense that nothing else could be done to it.
5. What is a typical misconception that people have about ballet?
That ballet dancers don't eat. I certainly need fuel, good fuel. My schedule is so rigorous. It is vital to eat good food to get the best out of my body.
6. How accessible was ballet to you when you were growing up?
I started dancing when I was around 3 years of age and as I got older I wanted to do more and more. I required rehearsal wear, shoes, costumes and classes which all comes at a cost. The support from my mum was unwavering and she did everything for me to continue to do what I loved. I also had a teacher throughout my earlier days that would give me free tuition if I helped out at the studio doing different little jobs which included some teaching. Ballet classes were very accessible to me because of the people surrounding me. I was very lucky.
7. Do you feel that all children have an opportunity to participate in ballet? What would you feel are some of the obstacles that children may face?
Im not in a position to comment on this because I simply don't know. One would hope that every child has the opportunity but the fact is they probably don't....however, The Australian Ballet have a wonderful education program. The program travels to schools in areas where children wouldn't get exposure to ballet. The company perform and after continue teaching some dancing and movement which gives children an experience of Ballet. They obviously cannot get to every school but I think it's a wonderful way to reach out to children and help them to understand and appreciate this art form.
8. Any advice for young dancers wanting to make it in the dance world?
Don't loose who you are? Your uniqueness is what will make you stand out.