Bal­le­rina’s lat­est stage role is no il­lu­sion

Weekend Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Co­ra­zon Miller

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

Adri­ana Harper as ma­gi­cian’s as­sis­tant and in the New Zealand Royal Bal­let’s The Wedding.

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