Interview with Maina Gielgud and BAE International Student Bianca Carnovale

May 14, 2019


Maina Gielgud is currently in residence at BAE staging Sleeping Beauty, Aurora’s Wedding for the BAE Spring Performance. Maina was a principal dancer with London Festival Ballet as well as a highly sought-after guest artist. After retiring from the stage Maina went on to become artistic director of the Australian Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet, among others. She continues to stage ballets for companies around the world.

Bianca Carnovale moved from her home in Australia to enter the BAE Pre-Professional Division in the fall of 2018. Bianca will be performing in Maina Gielgud’s staging of Sleeping Beauty, Aurora’s Wedding for the BAE Spring Performance.

Click here to get tickets to the BAE Spring Performance, May 31-June 2 at The Kaye Playhouse!


Bianca: I heard that you danced with Rudolph Nureyev. What was that like?

Maina: Rosella Hightower asked me to dance a full-length Sleeping Beauty with Nureyev. I had two rehearsals with him and five performances. He was so helpful and after each performance we would go out to dinner – lots of stories and fun. The following year I performed in Nureyev’s production of Don Quixote. He recreated the Gypsy pas de deux on me, which was an honor and so interesting. He had eagle eyes and was fantastic in rehearsal! We would go for lunch to an Italian restaurant and then we\’d come back in the afternoon, more rehearsal, back to the Italian restaurant for dinner, and in the evening he would do all his solos.


Bianca: Ballet is an exceptionally demanding career. What kept you going during tough times as a ballet dancer?

Maina: I\’ve always found the work fascinating I was very shy as a child it was hard to express myself, but never on stage. Throughout my dancing career I worked a lot on my own, building a strong technique so that I would be noticed in class and eventually get the great roles I so much aspired to perform.


Bianca: What was your favorite ballet to dance?

Maina: It’s cliché, but I loved whatever ballet I was working on at the time. GiselleSwan Lake and Sleeping Beauty were very special to me. When I danced in Bejart’s company I loved the challenge of having works created on me. I loved exploring the different styles of each classical and contemporary role.


Bianca: What is your favorite ballet to watch?

Maina: It\’s more to do with who\’s dancing and whether they move me in one way or another.


Bianca: What do you look for in a dancer?

Maina: Such a variety of things! I look for dancers who are creative and who have something to say. I love musicality, personality and individuality.


Bianca: My BAE peers and I feel so honored to be learning Sleeping Beauty, Aurora’s Wedding from you. If you could have us take away just one lesson from this process, what would it be?

Maina: I\’m always hoping that dancers I coach can understand that the process is not just a matter of being obedient and following instructions, but it’s also about taking risks and trying things out. Creativity is so important as an artist. I absolutely adore Natalia Osipova. She is a true force of nature. On stage she is one hundred percent committed to her performance and that transmits to me and everyone in the audience in a very powerful way. When I’m in London and sometimes working at the opera house I will go in on a Sunday and find Osipova working by herself for five hours at a stretch. A few years ago, I was working with Osipova in Milan and she had back to back performances of Swan Lake two days running. She insisted on getting notes after the matinee and working on the whole ballet with me again before her evening performance. Success doesn’t come from nowhere. It takes tremendous hard work and many hours in the studio.


Featured photo: Maina Gielgud & Sir John Gielgud

Photo top right: Maina Gielgud

Photo bottom right: Bianca Carnovale (photo credit: Rosalie O\’Connor)


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