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Conversations with Brooke : David Hallberg

I sat down with my dear friend David Hallberg, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet. The man needs no inroduction and is one of the greatest male artists of our time and now finding new heights in leading our national company. Thank you for sharing your wise words with studio 696 David and continuing to inspire the next generation.

Tell us about what drew you to ballet and your early training?

For me it was about the focus and the work. I loved being in the studio, toiling away at the small details. And at the end of class, that feeling of a really hard days work. That drove me into my career, that feeling of satisfaction after a hard rehearsal or performance; knowing I worked as hard as I possibly could have. It’s a common phrase but so true… Hard work truly does pay off.

At what point did you know this is what I want to do with my life and run us though your illustrious professional career.

It was never a choice for me. I had to do this. I didn’t question it ever. I didn’t think that there was something else to do in life. It was always about dance, and art, and work, and drive. But then the opportunities came, which I am thankful for. And it took me all over the world; London, Paris, Milan, Moscow, New York and of course my destiny, Australia.

Did your battles with injury and your journey to recovery change the way you take care of yourself or the respect you have for your body and mind and its capabilities?

I absolutely learned that we must take care of our bodies. And that if we do, we can push ourselves to the limits of what we are capable of. I didn’t take care of my body before my injury. And then after, I respected it, conditioned it, listened to it. Ignorance is not bliss with your one and only physical instrument!

you are without a doubt one of the greatest male dancers of our time if you had to narrow it down to 3 career highlights what would they be?

Re-Opening Bolshoi Theatre in The Sleeping Beauty
Romeo and Juliet with Natalia Osipova
Returning to guest at Paris Opera Ballet after being a student at the school

What is it you love so much about Australia and what attracted you to the role as AD for The Australian ballet.

I love the positivity and the ‘can do’ mentality. That is embedded in The Australian Ballet. The role of AD is purposeful, and one that I didn’t question to take this path. Life sometimes puts a direction right in front of you. And life put this path in front of me when I first danced for the company in 2010, then the rehab with the medical team, then this role… which I never imagined would happen.

Best and hardest part to your job as artistic director of the Australian ballet?

Best is seeing these dancers become their greatest versions of themselves.
Hardest is the lack of time to take a deep breath.

What are some of your thoughts on the relevance of ballet in 2023 and where is it headed in your opinion?

We are making great headway. Diversity. Gender inclusivity. Body positivity. Cultural sensitivity. Ballet has a great history. But also a need to reach to people today, to tell their stories, and continue to CREATE, not just rest on what has worked in the past.

Run us through your morning routine?

Early to rise. Coffee straight away at Loosie Grind (they open very early). Email catch up. Peloton to sweat. Bike into work. Go. Go. Go. I am a total morning person.

what is your favourite part of a ballet class?

The way you can play with the music you dance to. And find nuances to interpret yourself.

if you could have five people to dinner dead or alive who would they be?

Rudolf Nureyev.
Lady Gaga.
Brooke Lockett.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Leonard Bernstein.

Quick fire 5 questions

What book are you currently reading?

Picasso by John Richardson

Favourite piece of music?

Schubert Moment Musicaux no. 2

Favourite movie?

Ferris Buller’s Day Off

Favourite city in the world and why?

Milan. So industrial. So mysterious.

Best life advice you were ever given.

Life gave you this. So what will you do with it now.

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