Interview

Delia Mathews on dancing in Cinderella

Having finished the 2012 autumn tour, Birmingham Royal Ballet returned to our Midlands HQ on Monday, for a full week of Cinderella rehearsals.

Over the course of the winter season, seven different ballerinas will take to the stage as Cinderella, each with a different male dancer partnering them as the handsome prince.

One of them is First Artist Delia Mathews, who has already made her debut this autumn as the lead in Swan Lake (‘I really enjoyed it!’) and was among five Principal couples who on Monday shared a studio rehearsal.

‘We had a few rehearsals during the recent tour’, says Delia. ‘We had one in Cardiff last week, between the triple bill and Swan Lake. To be honest my mind was fairly full of Swan Lake, so it didn’t really go in, but at least it was a chance to try things out. We can focus properly now.’

Delia 1.

The dancers are been a great support to each other at this early stage, with the shared rehearsal providing a chance to learn from one another.

‘That’s been great, because there’s a lot to learn’, confirms Delia. ‘It’s been especially good having the chance to work with Elisha and Iain, because they created those roles, so they know them inside out. They know exactly what David’s thought processes were when the characters were first made, so it’s been great having their support.’

'If you don’t end up right above his head, it’s much harder for your partner to support you.'

Delia Mathews

In these photos, taken during Monday’s rehearsal, you can see Iain and Elisha helping Delia and partner Tyrone Singleton with one of the lifts. Also featured is Ballet Master Wolfgang Stollwitzer.

Delia 2.

‘A lot of it is about co-ordination between partners,’ Delia explains, ‘as well as balance. If you don’t end up right above his head, it’s much harder for your partner to support you.’

‘The guys usually tell you not to try to help too much, and to just let them lift you. If you jump even a second earlier than they’re expecting, then they can end up having to catch you on your way down and lift you back up, rather than just push you into the air in one movement.’

This is the first time that Delia has danced with Tyrone Singleton. ‘I’ve heard he’s a great partner,’ she says, ‘so I’m really looking forward to working with him this season.’

Delia 3.

But her work on Cinderella does not end with the title role. Across the three-week run in Birmingham, Delia will be playing a total of five characters. ‘I’m dancing Cinderella, Winter, one of the Stars, one of the Eight Ladies (the guests at the Prince’s Ball) and the Fairy Godmother! It’s a lot to learn, and in not much time, but I’m excited.’

In the story, Winter is one of four fairies, each representing a different season, who help the Fairy Godmother to transform Cinderella for the ball. It will be a particularly special role for Delia, having created the character for the original 2010 production.

It will also give her a chance to help those new to the role, in the same way that Elisha has supported Delia herself. And of course it also means that she is already familiar with the choreography.

‘It’s really nice to go back to something that’s already in your muscle memory, so you can work on it further’, she says. ‘It’s amazing how quickly it comes flooding back. When you put the music on, your body just does it!’