Nichola Shapendonk, finalist in the 2017 Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
Determined to be a ballerina from a young age, Nichola Schapendonk spoke to Sydney Eisteddfod after her stunning performance at the Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship Final. She discussed why she chose to perform Odalisque 3rd Variation, Act 1 from Le Corsaire and revealed the best piece of performance advice she has ever heard.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR PASSION FOR BALLET
The Australian Ballet has had a huge impact on my passion for ballet, as from a young age my parents would take me to see the Australian Ballet. To me, the productions always seemed so lavish and grand and the dancers were always so beautiful and elegant. I remember thinking to myself, that's what I want to do!
WHO INSPIRED YOU TO START DANCING?
My mum danced and taught tap, and I remember from a very young age being totally obsessed with wanting to do ballet. Luckily my parents put me into dance classes at age two. For me, ballet has always felt so right, like it’s a part of me and I honestly don't know what I would do without it.
YOU CHOSE TO PERFORM ODALISQUE 3rd VARIATION, ACT 1 from LE CORSAIRE IN THE SYDNEY EISTEDDFOD BALLET SCHOLARSHIP FINAL, TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THIS PIECE.
The role I am performed is one of three Odalisque, (beautiful and feminine slave-girls) belonging to the harem of Seyd-Pasha. I really enjoy dancing this variation as it allows me to show versatility between the strong dynamic choreography and the soft flowing movements. I like the challenge this variation gives me, especially with the pirouette section.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE FREE VARIATION YOU ALSO PERFORMED.
I love dancing my free variation, as the role challenges me to portray a character that is very beautiful, but at the same time also very ugly. I love the fact that it’s done on pointe, as I believe the movements and choreography performed on pointe really help highlight the beauty and ugliness of the character. The role I portray in my free variation is that of a God. A beautiful, all-powerful God, representing the beginning and the end. With my growth everything is given life, but by my bladed thought it can also be bitterly cursed.
WHICH OTHER PERFORMERS DO YOU MOST LIKE TO WATCH, AND WHY?
Sylvie Guillem - I think her technique, extension/lines jumps, and turns are impeccable. Her versatility, strength, musicality and technique, are all things I strongly admire. She is also very captivating to watch. Her movements seem flawless and her foot-work is very neat and precise. I especially enjoy the way she makes everything look so easy, never showing the effort behind the movement.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF PERFOrMANCE ADVICE YOU’VE EVER HEARD?
Determination and self-belief is the utmost key.