By Deborah Searle.
After ten very successful years at the Australian Ballet, principal dancer Danielle Rowe has packed her bags and taken up the barre at Houston Ballet. A much loved performer, Danielle will be greatly missed in Australia, along with her partner Luke Ingham who has also joined the company. Both popular members of the Australian Ballet company for many years, Danielle and Luke are excited to take their talent to Texas.
Upon arriving in Houston, Dance Informa’s Deborah Searle chatted with Danielle about the transition and her plans for the future.
“It’s been a bit of whirlwind, but it’s going well and I’m settling in”, Danielle shared. “I’ve joined the company as Soloist, which is the equivalent of a Senior Artist in Australia. I’ve already had a day of rehearsal and it feels like I’ve been here forever because everyone’s so friendly and welcoming. I’ve had a good start”, she said excitedly.
Audiences in Houston can look forward to some stunning performances by Danielle who won a prestigious Helpmann Award last year for Best Female Dancer. With such an accomplished career in Australia, Danielle was up for a new challenge. “I was at a stage in my career where I just felt like I needed a bit of a change. There wasn’t a dramatic reason for leaving, I just felt like I needed to work in a fresh environment and get out of my comfort zone”, she explained.
And out of her comfort zone she is, in the American southwest. After traveling to the States to guest perform Danielle responded to an urge to relocate. “Both Luke and I were drawn to America. We both were able to guest with Morphoses, so I spent a bit of time in the US. I began to really appreciate and enjoy the American style of dancing and the way that everyone works”. So Danielle and Luke contacted Artistic Director of Houston Ballet, Stanton Welch (an Australian born dancer with strong ties to the Australian Ballet), and the rest is history. But with opportunities all over the States, why did Danielle and Luke choose Houston Ballet? “We had heard really wonderful things about Houston Ballet. They have a great reputation as being a hard working and really versatile group of dancers”, Danielle shared.
The dancing pair is blessed to be able to join a company together. The fact that Houston Ballet offered positions for both dancers was another factor in their decision to join the company. “We wanted to move to a company that we could both work in. We know how hard it can be for couples to both get a job in a company they like. It’s really wonderful for both of us to have been given this opportunity and it’s great to have that support. Moving to a different country is a bit daunting, but we’ve got each other and that makes it easier”, Danielle revealed.
With rehearsals already in full swing for Houston Ballet’s Marie season in February and Sleeping Beauty in March, the pair are already busy, which is keeping Danielle happy. “I am looking forward to dancing as much as I possibly can”, she said. “There will hopefully be more opportunities for me to dance and perform on a more regular basis here. Houston Ballet rehearse all day (even the senior dancers), and they do a variety of different roles, as opposed to just doing principal roles. That was part of my reason for coming to Houston Ballet – the opportunity to work really, really hard and dance consistently”, she explained.
But what roles would Danielle still like to perform, as she has danced so many ballets over her career. “I’d love to do Onegin and to dance Giselle. I’d also like to do Odette/Odile in the traditional Swan Lake”, she said. But Danielle isn’t just interested in the classics. “I’d love to work with many different new and exciting choreographers. I really like the workshopping process and being challenged and inspired by new choreographers.”
Now that Danielle is in the States she is keen to explore the vast country and the many opportunities that it presents. “I’d like the opportunity to guest with some different companies around America, if I’m able to and if I have time to with the Houston Ballet schedule”, she disclosed.
But will she miss her home country and the Australian Ballet company? “I’ve never known any other company. I’ve grown up with the same group of dancers and danced with the same dancers, teachers, coaches and directors for ten years. I’m going to miss the comfort and security that I’ve developed with the Australian Ballet over the ten years, and also the three years that I had at the Australian Ballet School. I will miss the intimacy that I have with the Australian Ballet family”, she expressed with a sigh.
A little home sick but excited, Danielle and Luke have a wonderful future ahead in Houston and have some advice for other dancers thinking of making a move abroad. “It’s not as scary as you think”, Danielle laughed. “I think the scariest part about moving overseas is making the initial decision and committing to that decision. I certainly thought it was a huge event to uproot and move overseas, but it’s exciting more than scary.”
Good Luck Danielle and Luke. No doubt Houston audiences will adore you!
The role that I hold closest to my heart is ‘Baroness von Rothbart’ from Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake. It’s a character that I’ve had the opportunity to perform over a long period of time so I’ve been able to develop it. Each time I perform it it’s different and special and the ballet is wonderful. It’s a very fulfilling character to play.
I really loved performing Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain. The final pas de deux it’s so beautiful in its simplicity and the music is heaven. It’s really special. I think that’s been one of my most special times on stage.
Pointe Shoe Padding
I am a bit weird - I don’t actually wear anything! I don’t recommend it because you end up with horrible looking feet. As I was growing up I was advised to not wear anything in my pointe shoes, and being an impressionable student I did that and worked through the pain. Now I have really calloused and ugly feet. For the long term I’d recommend a bit of padding for younger dancers so they are able to wear sandals and not have people stare at their feet!
Touring Must Haves
Massage Ball – I have a massage ball that is my life saver. It gets out any niggly little pains.
Thera-Band - I think you can do so many exercise with just this one piece of equipment. It’s easy, you can role it up and it doesn’t weigh very much. It always helps to get me ready for class.
I usually have a banana in between rehearsals to give me energy. I don’t really like them, but I eat them because I know how good they are for me!
My favourite tutu would be the Ballet Imperial tutu. It’s a really hard ballet but the tutu has elegance. The tutu’s so regal that it makes the ballet feel a little easier. I got promoted to Principal when I was doing that role. It was just a really wonderful time and I have fun memories of that costume.
I love trawling through vintage stores, antiques stores and book shops and seeing what treasures I can find. I love going to the movies and reading. I love chilling out and having a cup of tea whilst listening to records.
See Danielle Rowe perform with Houston Ballet in Marie this February.
Houston Ballet – Marie
February 24- March 6
Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center, Houston
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Inspired by the life of Marie Antoinette
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Top photo: James Braund