Ballerina’s latest stage role is no illusion
When Adriana Harper left the Royal New Zealand Ballet it was a leap of faith into the unknown — two years on she has found love and a new career as a magician’s assistant.
Today she is Adriana Vegas — wife and assistant to illusionist and magician Andre Vegas.
In her new career she’s played a feisty- looking vampire, been “cut” in half and has enjoyed having her “furbabies” — three little dogs, t wo rabbits, a rooster and a dove — perform on stage.
The former top ballet dancer couldn’t be happier with how things have panned out since she decided to swap her pointe shoes in for magic tricks.
“I miss my friends, but no I don’t miss it [ the ballet world] . . . I am happy where I am now.”
Looking back on her ballet career Vegas, 32, said there were no regrets — she had been lucky to live a dream she’d had since she was 5.
“I had a fantastic time and even with all the ups and downs and everything, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
She recalled repeatedly watching a video of Kiwi dancer Sherilyn Kennedy and Carl Meyers dance in Swan Lake, which she credits for her early dance aspirations.
“I’m so stoked to say I achieved my dream . . . and I have been able to do that with such a great company.”
Vegas had been a dancer with the RNZB for almost 11 years when she left in September 2015.
She joined its ranks as one of the New Zealand School of Dance’s top graduates and recipient of the prestigious Todd Scholarship in 2005.
Her career took her to Italy, America and China.
Highlights included playing Lucy Westenra in the ballet Dracula, the little stepsister in Cinderella, and the principal role of Kitri in Don Quixote.
But over time the physical demands of rigorous rehearsals, eight to nine hours a day, five or six days a week, followed by intensive performance seasons, took a toll.
First came the ruptured ACL, which led to a nine- month hiatus.
“When you are performing your passion and you are there watching all your friends dancing, to have to step back and work on getting stronger it’s really quite difficult.”
Months later Vegas was back dancing — but said the mental hurdles proved tough.
“I kept thinking it might happen again, I needed to keep the strength up. It was definitely a challenge to keep going, but I stuck at it for a few years.”
Eventually Vegas felt it was time to go and left after a final performance as a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
When she left the ballet world Vegas had no plan.
“I took a few months off, just had a break from everything, but I had no idea what I was going to do.”
She caught up with family before asking magician friend Andre Vegas if he needed an assistant.
He did — and so her new career flourished and she found her own happily ever after, falling in love and then marrying the magician in June last year in a ceremony at Auckland’s Langham Hotel.
Vegas steered clear of magical theatrics at the wedding. “The fact I was getting married was the magical moment.”
Adriana Harper as magician’s assistant and in the New Zealand Royal Ballet’s The Wedding.