CA­REER PATH

From a lit­tle girl in her mother’s Auck­land stu­dio to the big- city stages of the world, bal­le­rina Clytie Camp­bell’s ca­reer has swept from one act to the next

NZ Life & Leisure - - Contents - WORDS C HERE E MOR­RI­SON

Clytie Camp­bell’s danc­ing ca­reer has swept flu­idly from one act to the next

1985–1997 Philippa Camp­bell School of Bal­let As Clytie’s mother Philippa owned a dance stu­dio and was a suc­cess­ful dance teacher, Clytie’s early years were spent watch­ing the stu­dents and prac­tis­ing fi rst po­si­tion. Her fi rst tutu was so lit­tle it was made from a re­pur­posed crim­son vel­vet hat. “Danc­ing was al­ways some­thing I took se­ri­ously but al­ways found fun. I loved be­ing on stage and per­form­ing. It was what I wanted to do; I didn’t have a par­tic­u­lar dream role or com­pany, I just wanted to be a bal­let dancer.” At­tended Auck­land Metropoli­tan Col­lege as it was fl ex­i­ble about ac­com­mo­dat­ing her train­ing sched­ule – a dance class counted as a PE les­son.

1997–2004 Deutsche Oper Bal­let in Ber­lin Flew to Ber­lin to au­di­tion for Deutsche Oper Bal­let. As­sumed she wouldn’t be ac­cepted into the com­pany, so planned to travel around Europe au­di­tion­ing for train­ing schools, the tra­di­tional next step for dancers. To her sur­prise, Clytie got the job. “I had eight months to fi ll in be­fore the job started, so I re­turned to New Zealand to com­plete half my sev­enth-form year be­fore re­turn­ing to Ber­lin. It was a huge cul­ture shock. I was only 17 and didn’t speak the lan­guage. But it was where I grew up – I loved the com­pany and stayed al­most seven years.”

2004–2005 Vi­enna’s Staat­soper Bal­let Moved to Vi­enna to dance in the State Bal­let for 18 months. “I didn’t en­joy the com­pany or life in Vi­enna as much so I de­cided to re­turn to New Zealand for the sum­mer months and then in­tended to go back to Ger­many. While I was home I did a few classes with the Royal New Zealand Bal­let ( RNZB) to stay in shape.” The RNZB had sev­eral in­jured artists and needed ex­tra dancers for its up­com­ing per­for­mances of The Nutcracker. Danced the fa­mous grand pas de deux, then ac­cepted an of­fer to join the com­pany full time. Flew back to Vi­enna, packed up her apart­ment and moved home.

2005–2016 Dancer for the RNZB Her reper­toire in­cludes La Syl­phide (as the Sylph), Don Quixote (as Kitri), Giselle (as Myrtha) and A Mil­lion Kisses to My Skin – to name but a few. A high­light? Per­form­ing on an out­door stage in front of a castle in the South of France. The lowlight was suf­fer­ing a knee in­jury in 2010 and an an­kle in­jury in 2012. “Two doc­tors told me my ca­reer was over. I lis­tened to the third who said there was a small chance of re­cov­ery, and af­ter six months off and a lot of strength­en­ing, I was able to per­form for sev­eral more years.” Clytie’s fi nal per­for­mance was in De­cem­ber as Her­mia in A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream – per­haps the most emo­tional of her ca­reer.

2017 Bal­let mis­tress for the RNZB “The bal­let mis­tress’ role is to coach the dancers, to push them, men­tor them, boost their confi dence and strength, to re­hearse the bal­lets so the per­for­mances are great. It’s life on the other side of the fence, more re­spon­si­bil­ity than just think­ing about your­self and your per­for­mance. It was the right time to make the change, but I will al­ways miss be­ing on stage. I loved the buzz at the end of a show, the adren­a­line of per­form­ing.” When not over­see­ing the dancers, Clytie (now 37) oc­ca­sion­ally teaches at her mother’s dance school. As for the fu­ture? The next act is still to be writ­ten. Car­men with L’Ar­lesi­enne tours Rotorua, Palmer­ston North, Welling­ton and Auck­land, 9 March–1 April.

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