A Conversation with Ballerina Teagan Lowe
To dance. To be able to leap through the air, stand on pointed toe and pirouette, and then gracefully float across a stage. I have dreamed such dreams. But in my waking hours, it is blatantly obvious that those types of movements for me personally, will be relegated to remain in my dreams. Ah, but there are others, more blessed than I, who have that rare and impressive talent.
Teagan Lowe is one such individual. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Teagan for a while now. She is petite, beautiful and everything you’d think a ballerina should be. She is also strong, funny and an avid coffee drinker who happens to get distracted by shiny sparkly things. Agreeing to chat with us, she graciously shared about her life in the dance world, the path she has traveled, as well as her goals and dreams.
She also makes mention of her beau, Henry Byalikov. Both Teagan and Henry originally hail from Australia. Henry is a professional dancer, choreographer and instructor, and can be seen performing on the ABC television show, Dancing with the Stars.
I started our discussion by asking Teagan if she would acquaint us a little with what she is currently involved in, giving us some insight as to what actually her role is in the dance world…
I have been very fortunate in my career so far to have danced for many leading dance companies (both Classical Ballet and Contemporary Dance, holding positions of Principal Dancer & Associate Artistic Director). Currently I am dancing with The Australian Ballet Company in their brand new production of ‘Swan Lake’. This production was specifically commissioned for the company’s 50th Anniversary year, and was choreographed by one of Australia’s leading choreographers, Stephen Baynes.
I admit that I am a novice when it comes to the dance world, but I am rightfully impressed. I am also certain enough to know that one wouldn’t just go out on the stage after costuming and glide across the floor. There is preparation and training that must be done to get one to this point. So we discussed what a “normal” day would be like for a dancer who was performing in a company production…
A normal “rehearsal-only” day commences with ballet class 10:30 am – 11:45 am (although this could also be after a 9 am Pilates session), followed by a 15 minute break, then rehearsals from 12 pm – 3 pm, an hour lunch break, then afternoon rehearsals from 4 pm – 6.30 pm.
However in the lead up to and during “performance/rehearsal” days I would generally start my day with ballet class at 10:30 am – 11:45 am, short 15 minute break, then rehearsals of the show (usually to alternate casts, but also to go through notes from the previous rehearsals or shows). This rehearsal period usually finishes at 3 pm, then there is a lunch/dinner break from 3 pm – 6 pm, followed by ballet barre (to prepare us for the evening show), our half-hour call is at 6.55 pm, and curtain up is at 7.30 pm (again unless it is a matinee show, which commences at 1 pm, or an early evening show which starts at 6:30 pm).
That is quite a rigorous schedule! I can see where coffee would come in handy! This all sounds amazing…but what did it take to get to his point? How did it all begin?
I commenced my dance training at Classique School of Dance where I studied Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Contemporary, all thanks to my best friend in Kindergarten, Yvonne, whom I am still best friends with to this day (Yvonne was the one who kept begging me to “come to ballet, come to ballet”….and mum eventually succumbed). Growing up I enjoyed success in many eisteddfods & national competitions, and was selected as a Cecchetti Ballet Scholar in 1999 and 2000.
From 1998 – 2004 I trained at The Australian Ballet School, starting as a junior associate, completing a Certificate III in Dance in 2001 & graduated with my Advanced Diploma in Dance.
I made my professional contemporary debut with Sydney Dance Company in the 2005 World Premiere season of ‘Hua Mulan’, which was presented as part of the ‘Shanghai International Arts Festival’ before being invited to join the full Company ensemble. During my 4 1/2 years with Sydney Dance, I performed much of Graeme Murphy’s repertoire & toured extensively with the company throughout Australia, Asia, Europe & America. In addition to my position as the Principal Dancer with SDC, I was also asked to perform for International Galas, Festivals, The Australian Dance & Helpmann Awards, in Movies and TV Series and I have also been the face and a sponsored dancer of Australia’s leading Dancewear range, Energetiks, for the past eight years.
In 2009 I was poached by Graeme Murphy to perform as a Principal Dancer in ‘AIDA’ for Opera Australia, which led to performing with OA for years to follow. This then opened up other performance opportunities with the State Opera of South Australia, Queensland Opera, and the Adelaide & Sydney Festivals.
Throughout 2011 I was the Associate Artistic Director & Principal Dancer of Mod Dance Company (Contemporary Dance Company) & since then have been a Principal Dancer for The Tasmanian Classical Ballet Company, & dancer with Australia’s leading ballet company, The Australian Ballet.
Even with all of the education and training that would come with this much experience, we chatted a little about the future and what steps might still be taken to continue her development…
With anything, I am ALWAYS, looking to further develop my skills, be that in dance or academically. I feel it is so important as a dancer to realistically know how short your career can potentially be. Personally, I try my utmost to make sure that I am prepared, educated & well-rounded for when it comes my time to exit stage left 😉 hehehe.
Being an Associate Artistic Director gave me a strong feeling for what I really want to do as my “post-stage” career, so I am always reading up and training myself in whatever ways possible to make a “Directorship role” a definite part of my future.
Obviously to endure all of this, there is a love for the craft. I wondered what it was that really brought satisfaction, the thing enjoyed most about her career…
Performing! I really cannot explain the feeling of euphoria I get from a performance. From the warm up ballet class pre-show, to getting ready at my dressing room, with the lights, make-up, smell of hairspray, nervous giggles and dressing room antics….all these elements (ever since I was a wee girl), have always given me the same rush & adrenalin I associate with performing. I am so incredibly grateful & thankful, not only for getting the opportunity to dance on stages all over the world, but also for the incredible audiences who make my performances completely unforgettable.
Of course, most of us don’t traverse these roads alone…there is always someone who inspires us, nurtures, leads us…
For me this is an easy question to answer, although it doesn’t fulfill the typical “influence/role model” bill. My biggest inspiration, influence and role-model is my Grandma (Kathleen). She was never a dancer herself (actually no-one in my family ever danced), but everything my Grandma does, or has done in the past, is done so with dedication, determination, love, honesty and purpose. Without even knowing it, she is my complete driving force; not only for my dance career but for everything I do in life. I love her so incredibly much for allowing me to live this incredible life and owe a lot to her.
So with looking ahead I wondered what might be next on the agenda?
Henry and I are always discussing & developing our big ideas for the future….we have a lot that we both wish to achieve. I really wish to follow onto more of a Directorship role after the body gives way, and I really hope I can build something really incredible, with Henry, from the knowledge and experience I have now, and will continue to develop. We will keep you posted with all our exciting projects coming up!
Hopes of becoming a professional dancer is no small feat. For those who may be considering embarking on this career path, we talked about thoughts on what she has learned…
Really find what is best for you and you only! Listen to teachers, mentors, and industry professionals who will guide you on where the best classes, teachers, etc are, but first and foremost know YOU. If you are a smaller dancer be sure to tailor your training and classes accordingly, if you are not a “typical ballerina body” look into all the amazing companies & full-time schools around, there will be one perfect for your dance style and body type. If you have the passion, drive and determination there WILL be a company out there for you, you just have to be open, flexible and willing to travel to turn your dance dreams into a reality.
Very sound advice. After all of this, I thought there has to be something that might surprise us about this woman. So I asked and here is her answer…
It’s not dance related at all, but I cannot touch foam (like the sponge foam)….hehehe. I think it was a phobia that started when I was forced in gymnastics (which I only went to once when I was about 5 years old) to roll into the foam pit by my extremely harsh coach….to this day I still cannot touch foam. It’s horrible!
Ah ha!! We now have her Kryptonite!
Thanks Teagan, for taking time to chat with us! Even with her busy schedule, Teagan has agreed to become part of our At a Glance family by doing a few articles! We are considerably privileged to have someone of her caliber writing for us! I look forward to seeing what interesting things she brings to share!
“Fast Five” – Questions for Fun!
Favorite subject in school? Psychology.
Favorite food indulgence? It’s not really food, but how can I not say coffee??
Favorite guilty non-food pleasure? Travelling.
Celebrity crush? I have 2 (and Henry knows them both)….Johnny Depp & Justin Timberlake.
What’s on your nightstand? Jewelry and lots of it 😉
January 8, 2013 at 10:14 am
Wow! Dedication to craft and all that lovely power! Inspiring! What human bodies and the will to make art can do.
Thanks for the glimpse into the life of the beautiful Teagan Lowe. I laughed at the foam phobia 🙂 I can relate! I have a strong aversion to styrofoam. Been that way since I was a toddler. Touching it and hearing the squeaking sound it makes causes me physical pain in my core. It’s so strange! 😀 Foam-haters of the world unite!
January 8, 2013 at 9:48 pm
Glad you enjoyed Poppy! I hear you on the styrofoam as well…I can’t stand to hear it at all…makes me cringe now just thinking about it! 😀