The curtain is up on our new fine jewellery collection “Pas de Deux: Inspired by The Royal Ballet”, and to celebrate, we spoke with Claire Calvert, Soloist at The Royal Ballet, about passion, hard work, and what it takes to create something beautiful. Plus, Claire Calvert lets us in on a little secret; she tells us which pieces are her favourite from the new “Pas de Deux” collection.
Boodles: Tell us about yourself – how old were you when you started to dance? And how long did it take you to train?
Claire Calvert: I’ve been dancing since I was very little, about two or three years old. My love for it grew from there – I became more and more passionate about it as I got older. I started to train professionally from the age of 11 when I joined The Royal Ballet School and I was there until I joined The Royal Ballet at the age of 18.
What is your current role in The Royal Ballet?
I’m currently a Soloist with The Royal Ballet, having previously been an Artist and then a First Artist. I had already worked with The Royal Ballet as a student – dancing roles such as a swan in Swan Lake, a nymph in The Sleeping Beauty and one of the snowflakes in The Nutcracker. Having seen me dance in these roles over the years The Royal Ballet asked me to join the Company when I graduated from The Royal Ballet School.
What does your everyday training routine consist of?
A regular day begins with morning class at 10.30am, which runs until 11.45am. This is the time when the whole company gets together to warm up – starting with barre stretches and moving on to more energetic exercises as our muscles wake up. We then have rehearsals from noon until half six in the evening. But if there’s a show that night we’ll finish rehearsals earlier, around 5.30pm, ahead of the show starting at 7.30pm (which then usually finishes at approximately 10.30pm that night).
How long does it take to learn a particular part?
It really depends on a number of things – the size of the role, how much there is to learn, and how much time we have scheduled to put things together. Generally we all learn the steps of a role pretty quickly, and then it’s just a matter of rehearsing to get them ready for the stage. Some ballets like Swan Lake or The Sleeping Beauty we have danced quite a few times, so you remember them. That said, when I changed rank to Soloist there were lots of different roles to learn within these familiar ballets.
Tell us some of the highlights of your career so far.
One highlight that really stands out for me was my first feature role as the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty because it was the first time that I danced on my own on the Royal Opera House stage. Playing the Mistress in Manon was another highlight. It’s quite a big part and it was so nice to play a character – a real person, rather than a fairy!
And what role would you most like to play in your career and why?
For me the ultimate role is Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. It shows so many different sides of you as a dancer: you have Odette the white swan – pure, clean, innocent – and then you have the counter part of Odile, who is strong and very technical. Dancing this role really shows everything that makes the whole product of a Principal dancer.
The partnership between The Royal Ballet and Boodles has created the Pas de Deux range of jewellery. Can you see the influence of ballet in the collection?
Yes, absolutely. It’s been really interesting to see someone’s interpretation of what we do.
Jewellery, like ballet, involves a mingling of technique and creative expression to create the finished product. How much freedom do you have to bring your own interpretation to a role?
We have quite a lot of freedom to interpret things how we want; I think it’s important for people to do so. However, ballet is a strict art form so there are many things that have to be done in a certain way. That’s why we have Ballet Coaches at the front of the rehearsal studio to tell us what looks good and what is the best way to portray a role. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to get insight from the people who originally had the roles created for them – they help us understand how the roles should be performed and the right way to interpret them ourselves.
If you could have one piece of jewellery from the new Pas de Deux collection, what would it be?
The jewellery that I was wearing for the photo shoot with Charlie Dailey – the Pink Diamond bracelet and the necklace - was absolutely beautiful. I wouldn’t say no to that!