Madison Bailey on her role as Clara in The Nutcracker
Madison Bailey started her journey with the School as a Junior Associate before joining White Lodge and then graduating from Upper School in 2019. She joined The Royal Ballet on the Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme and is now an Artist with the Company. This year, Madison made her debut as Clara in The Nutcracker – we spoke with her about the experience.
We’re thrilled you’re dancing the role of Clara in this year’s production of The Nutcracker – congratulations! What do you most enjoy about performing this role?
Clara is such a magical and playful role to delve into, but my favourite part about performing the role is how much individuality you can bring to it. I really enjoy just being myself on stage and reacting honestly and authentically to what is happening around me. It’s so much fun to be able to immerse yourself in the magic of the story.
Did you encounter any challenges preparing to play Clara and if so, how did you overcome them?
I only found out that I would be doing Clara about four weeks before my show. It was a very quick turnaround as it was a last-minute cast change, so our rehearsals were very fast-paced. As Clara, you never really leave the stage, so I would say the hardest part of the role was trying to learn all the in-between moments that aren’t necessarily part of the choreography but are just as important.
When you were at the School, you performed The Nutcracker with both The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, what were those experiences like?
Working with companies throughout school years gives you a wider understanding of the ballets you are performing as well as teaching you to be flexible, versatile and able to jump into any spot in the corps. You can be dropped into any place at any time so knowing what everyone is doing around you and having a broader understanding of the ballet is really helpful.
You joined the Company in 2019, what are some of your most treasured performance memories and why?
I would say that my most treasured performance memories so far have been dancing in Crystal Pite’s Light of Passage and Solo Echo as well as Neopolitan in Swan Lake and now I can add Clara to that list. These were very exciting and special to me as it was the first time I got a feel for a featured role and dancing outside of the corps de ballet. In Crystal’s works, it’s completely different to dancing in most of the corps work we do. As much as we had to dance as one unit, it’s much more expansive and individual. Performing the role of Clara is also completely different to what I’m used to in the sense that she leads the story of the ballet but equally gets a taste of every dance and scene within it.
You work in an incredibly creative and inspiring environment, who inspires you among your peers and in the wider dance world?
I’ve always felt so grateful to work amongst such talented and incredible artists. There are so many dancers in the Company that I look up to and learn from but if I had to name a few I would say Francesca Hayward and Isabella Gasparini. They always amaze me with their ability to bring a story to life and portray a character with such intense detail. Their acting skills alongside their talent for dance is breathtaking and something I really admire.
What are your hopes for the new year and what are you most excited about?
I’m really excited to keep growing and developing as an artist and looking forward to new challenges and opportunities in the rest of the season. I am also excited at the thought of finishing my first full season since joining. I’ve had many ups and downs (due to injury, pandemic, health) since joining in 2019 which has meant I haven’t been able to complete a full season yet.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I think it’s really important for dancers to know that as much as it’s in our nature to push through injury and illness to keep us on stage doing what we all love, health is always the priority and sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are all human and that it’s ok to take a breather and look after yourself. The stage will always be there, so look after your body as much as you can in order to enjoy it!