Q&A with First Company Artist Joe Chapman

Introducing Joe Chapman, who will join Queensland Ballet in 2021 as a First Company Artist.

Q&A with First Company Artist Joe Chapman

Joe danced with The Australian Ballet as part of the corps de ballet from 2012, and was later promoted to coryphée in 2015. In 2018, he joined The National Ballet of Canada, where he performed as a Second Soloist. We are delighted to welcome him back to Australia and have him join the Queensland Ballet family.

Describe the moment that you discovered your love for ballet.

The moment I remember most clearly, is seeing Paris Opera Ballet perform their version of Swan Lake, Nureyev’s Le Lac des Cygnes at The Opéra Bastille. I had watched a video of the production countless times and to witness it live was something I will never forget. I could watch that production forever! If I could have one ballet video to watch while stranded on a desert island, that would be it!

What aspects do you find most rewarding about the artform?

Performing is always rewarding. It induces a euphoric feeling that stays with you for a few hours, but then eventually disappears, which can sometimes feel strange. I find the most rewarding aspects of the artform are seeing progress or making discoveries through consistent daily work - through that work the execution of the steps becomes second nature, and I can be present emotionally for those fleeting on-stage moments.

What do you find the most challenging?

Not being busy! I have to keep myself busy because I don’t like the idea that I could be wasting time!

What is your favourite role you have performed?

It’s so hard to choose just one! Franz, in Dame Peggy van Praagh’s Coppelia was my first full-length ballet in a Principal role, so that was very exciting. I had grown up watching a video of the production, so it felt very special to have the opportunity to interpret the role myself. By far the most fun I’ve ever had, was as ‘The March Hare’ In Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland!

What is the most challenging role you have performed?

Another one of my favourite roles, but definitely one of the most challenging, would be the role I danced in Frederick Ashton’s Symphonic Variations. It was something I never thought I would have the opportunity to dance; it was very nerve wracking, but the process with my coach prepared me well for the performances.

Photo credit: Karolina Kuras

Who is your favourite choreographer that you have worked with?

It is impossible to choose one! Crystal Pite is one of the greatest choreographers currently creating. Dancing her work at The Mariinski in 2018 and then working with her in 2019 and 2020 on a new creation was incredible. She is a one-of-a-kind creative, collaborator, teacher and rehearsal director. She is also a good person, which makes working with her a pleasure.

I have danced Jîrí Kylián works three times in my career. While working with him directly would be incredible, I have been very lucky to learn from repetiteurs who danced with Nederlands Dans Theater when he was creating. In the world of classical ballet, Christopher Wheeldon is someone I would love to work with again, his creations are some of the most important of the 21st century and he is a brilliant storyteller….and one more, I wish I could time travel to work with John Cranko. When I dance his choreography (which I have only once or twice) I feel at my most expressive.

Describe your daily routine as a dancer.

My routine can change depending on my workload. During a time where we are rehearsing and not performing, my day starts with specific exercises that address areas of weakness or misalignment in my body. Then class, which is an essential part of every day; it is an opportunity to refine the simple but often challenging technical elements that make up classical ballet. I find that the more challenging classes make rehearsals feel easier.

The rest of the day will be filled with rehearsals. If there’s any free time I like to do other forms of exercise that release endorphins and work up a sweat. Sometimes I will do specific cross training that will help achieve a required level of fitness or strength that will help with upcoming repertoire. On performance day, pre-class exercises and class will start a bit later (which allows time for an extra coffee!), and after a shorter rehearsal, there will be a longer break before the performance. On those days I may not get home until 11pm so it is important that I am organised and have healthy meals made in advance.

If you weren’t a ballet dancer, what would you do for a living?

Since a young age I have always loved musical theatre, so there is always a part of me that wants to perform on Broadway! After I have finished dancing, I would love to find a physically active job in the arts that involves writing, design and some kind of directing - not sure if such a job exists, so I may have to create a job for myself!

Do you have a pre-show ritual that you carry out before every performance?

I usually try to do one too many things in preparation for a show and at beginners call end up running to the stage while putting on my costume! So, I suppose that’s a kind of ritual?

You are joining QB as a First Company Artist. How does it feel to be starting off 2021 at a new ballet Company?

I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to dance back home in Australia. I am very thankful to Li Cunxin AO and Queensland Ballet for bringing me into the Company in what will be an exciting year! There is an energy within the company and I am in awe of how they have grown in recent years. It is a world-renowned ballet company and I am excited to be here!

Which of Queensland Ballet’s 2021 productions are you most excited to perform, and why?

Can I say all of them!? Harald Lander’s Études, which features in the 60th Anniversary Gala season, is always an exciting piece. It’s a work performed only by the best ballet Companies in the world! The Bespoke season seems very exciting too. To have so many Australian choreographers commissioned for one season is unique to Queensland Ballet, and will be a wonderful opportunity to welcome audiences to the newly renovated Thomas Dixon Centre to experience a variety of diverse choreographic voices.

To find out more about Joe, click Here 

Photo credit: Karolina Kuras 


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