Tala Lee-Turton

5 Things You Only Know If You’re… a Classically Trained Ballet Dancer

1. WE DON’T LISTEN TO CLASSICAL MUSIC ALL THE TIME
There’s a bit of a misconception that we do. We might dance to classical music at shows, but I listen to a wide range of music. I’m a big fan of indie bands (being from South Yorkshire, the Arctic Monkeys are up there!) and I’m also into electronic music and a lot of synth-based stuff.

2. WE TRAIN LIKE ATHLETES
It’s hard work and all about conditioning your body, even when you don’t have a production coming up. It takes a long time to warm up (at least 45 minutes first thing every morning) and a lot of training every day – we can’t just jump up and do a pirouette for you! When you do have a production coming up, you’re usually looking at morning technique classes followed by five or six hours of rehearsals. It’s pretty much constant and very full-on.

3. THERE’S NO WOOD IN BALLET SHOES
People have asked me that one before, “Is there wood in your shoe?” There isn’t. In fact, it’s usually more like a paper mache sort of material. The type I wear are made out of plastic, which helps to keep their shape; you can also put them in the wash and they last longer. I can keep my shoes for about a year, which is actually quite unusual as some dancers have to get new shoes after almost every performance.

4. ON THE TOPIC OF SHOES, THEY CAN BE VERY PERSONAL
When you buy pointe shoes, they come without ribbons or elastics. You have to add all that by yourself. It’s quite a personal ritual and everyone does them slightly differently. I don’t do ribbons anymore, I’m done with them, so it’s just two crossed elastics for me now.

5. WE’RE NOT ALL SUPER PRIVILEGED
Of course, we all check our privilege. My mum fundraised so much to send me to the Bolshoi, so I’m super grateful for that because I know not everybody has that support. That said, the ballet world does get a bad rap at times. The general consensus is that everybody is really posh, and that’s not the case. In fact, I found in Russia that more dancers were from working-class backgrounds. But certainly in the UK people are surprised when they hear my Barnsley accent!

Born and raised in Barnsley, classical dancer Tala Lee-Turton made history as only the third British female to graduate from the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet Academy in its then 245-year history. Today she’s Creative Producer and Founder of Tala Lee-Turton Productions and a freelance professional dancer. Head here for our interview with Tala, who’ll be bringing a very special music and dance experience to Botanical Gardens this month.

@talaleeturton

Main image: Xenia / Zavod Studio




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