Laurretta Summerscales has been part of the ensemble of Bayerisches Staatsballet since 2017. Now, for the second time, the principal dancer has been nominated for the award "Dancer of the Year" by the magazine DANCE EUROPE . The voting for the award runs until October 31, 2023. In this interview, Laurretta Summerscales tells what she loves about dancing, how she prepares for a new role, and what awards mean to her.

Annabell Frankenfeld (AF): Congratulations on your nomination as dancer of the year! In the nomination, there have been two performances especially highlighted: Romeo and Juliet and Schmetterling. Are there any other roles you have danced that are special to you?

Laurretta Summerscales (LS): To be honest, I enjoy nearly every single role I do. The reason why I like it is because I become a different character every single time. I think everyone dances for a reason and for me, it’s also to get out of the real world, to get out of myself, my own head, my body – so I become somebody else. For me, that‘s liberating. It's like detox. Any role can be something special, it's up to you if you want to find that or not. Of course, I do have some favourites, but I don‘t want to completely isolate them from other things. For me, it's not about a particular role, it’s about particular moments with wonderful people.


AF: Can you explain that? What makes such a moment special?

LS:  It’s amazing when humans come together, having a good energy, and really make something special happen. There have been lots of moments like that. For example just in this year, when Sol León and Paul Lightfoot (editor’s note: choreographers of Schmetterling) came. The way they work is very different. It had such a family vibe and it was really about humanity. In ballet you are often a perfectionistic, which is important but it was refreshing for me to work with people who have a different outlook and take on it. Also working with Christopher Wheeldon (editor’s note: choreographer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) and his team was special. They were very picky about the details, which actually made me free. When you know the music so well, you know the counts so well, you know exactly what you're doing, then you're then free to do what is necessary in that moment. So it was wonderful to have time with them and their energy. Then you also have moments with your partners, which makes roles and moments special. You have to work so much to get that one moment and it's such a wonderful high. For me, it’s about moments with people that are really passionate about this art form. That's what makes you truly happy. When they really care about you and the ballet and combining them, not just themselves or just the ballet. It has to be a complete circle.  You need to work together to make that happen and if you focus too much on one thing, then something else is out of balance and that’s not so enjoyable.


AF: You have done many different ballets and different characters, How do you prepare for a new character?

LS: I feel music is actually the basis of everything. If I don't have any music to dance to, I find it much harder and for me the music normally has the mood, so you just have to follow it. In the studio, we talk about many things. Then at home, I always go through my corrections.  Sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up and then can't go back to sleep because everything is in my head. So normally, when I am working on something new, I don't sleep (she laughs). It's really annoying, but that seems to be the way that it happens.

Laurretta Summerscales with Robin Strona

AF: What does dance mean to you?

LS: It means everything. It sounds cliché, but it's who I am. I really love the way I can release any emotions that I'm feeling in real life. For example, I can be in a very bad situation mentally, however by the time I finish a rehearsal, after being in the studio listening and dancing to the music, I'm a new me.


AF: What do you think makes a dancer a good dancer?

LS: I think being a good person. In life everybody has insecurities and in dance, I think those insecurities are magnified because everybody has an opinion and you can't control that. When you're young, you care more about what people think. It's something that everyone criticises ballet for but at the end of the day, it's mankind. Everyone will always have their opinion and you have to find your own way of dealing with that. So, to be kind and to accept that you are doing your best every single day, that's all anyone can do and most importantly you have to be able to laugh at yourself. We all do silly things. You might do something that looks awful. It can happen to the very best ballerinas, however if you are defensive and don’t take on corrections or believe that you are perfect, you're not going to become the best that you can be. You have to take that moment to laugh at yourself. It also becomes an enjoyable experience with the people that you are working with too.


AF: You have won several awards in the past years, now you are nominated as Dancer of the Year. Do awards have a special impact on a dancer's career?

LS: Yes, I believe they do. By having an award, people would immediately think, a dancer is good even without seeing them dance. If you have two people, one who has won a few awards and one who hasn't, you're going to pick the one with the awards and I think, an award gives you recognition, which is always nice.


AF: What would the award "Dancer of the Year" mean to you?

LS: It would be wonderful to receive this award as Dance Europe is a very respected magazine and it would be really nice to get that recognition. However, there are many great dancers that are nominated, so just being chosen with them makes me happy. 


AF: Do awards have a special meaning to you personally?

LS: When I was younger, they meant a lot. As I've got older, I look at life differently. For me, awards are really nice. It's like a nice warm hug and sometimes, you want that warm hug, however I have other things that make me feel good, like performing and my family. So I never think “I want to do this because I want to get an award.” No, you do it because you love it and if you get the awards on top, that's great. It's like a cherry on top, but you don't need that cherry. You've got the whole ice cream there. You can just eat the whole thing every single day – and that’s great.


AF: Thank you so much for the interview, Laurretta!

Author: Annabell Frankenfeld


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