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Abigail Prudames in a blonde wig and white costume being held up by multiple dancers in skirts

In Conversation With... Abigail Prudames

For International Women’s Day, and to celebrate Northern Ballet joining us this week for Casanova, we wanted to shine a spotlight on dancer Abigail Prudames who has recently been promoted to the Company’s Premier Dancer.

Written by Ellen Carnazza.

Describe a day in the life of a Premier Dancer?

I have my alarm set for 7am. I have two dogs and a cat so my morning consists of sorting them out first then getting myself ready to leave for work. After a 40min drive, I arrive at work in time for ballet class, which we use to further train ourselves. Training normally lasts for 1hr 15, followed by a 15 minute break before our first rehearsal. Rehearsals continue until 2.30pm, followed by lunch till 3.30pm, when rehearsals resume until 6.30pm. I then head home, have dinner with my husband and spend as much time as I can with our pets. Some days aren’t as hectic as others but more often than not I’m busy!

What was your journey to becoming a Premier Dancer?

I danced ballet, tap, modern, character and Riverdance at my local dance studio called Studio 3 Dance Workshop in Knaresborough. I then became a Junior Associate in Leeds which allowed me to attend ballet class for two hrs every Saturday.

I then auditioned for The Royal Ballet School (Lower School) called White Lodge. I got through the first audition and was invited to the final audition down in London – which I was successful at. I started White Lodge at age 11 and stayed there for the full five years of secondary school.

After completing my GCSE’s and my five years of intense specialist training, I auditioned for a couple of upper schools (these would be my sixth form years), going to Elmhurst Ballet School. I did my further training there for the full three years and then it was time to find a job.

I auditioned for Northern Ballet and received an Apprentice contract. I accepted and started my first professional job in 2011, working my way up the Company to Premier Dancer with the support of Northern Ballet, and especially past Artistic Director, David Nixon. I’m still learning, I’m working hard, trying to improve myself and striving for better, and I will continue to do that for as long as I’m a dancer.

What has been the highlight (to-date) of your time at Northern Ballet?

So many highlights! Every day can be so different to the next, so being constantly engaged and still having the want and need to do this job is an overall highlight.

I have to mention the creation of The Little Mermaid as this was my first creation of a title role with David Nixon as the choreographer. I will never forget the process – the part of the journey where we piece the whole ballet together, then taking the production on tour.

Being able to have the confidence to own the role you are playing is a wonderful feeling. I have danced with many partners in my time at Northern Ballet but I have partner Joseph Taylor predominantly, which is an absolute highlight for me. The partnership we have built together, the trust and most of all the friendship is very special.

Dancing at Northern Ballet has been my entire career and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

It’s International Women’s Day: who are the important women in your life and why?

I have my mum who is there no matter what. She is honestly the strongest woman I know. She has been, still is, and always will be, my role model. She is like superwoman. I have two sisters both younger than me and they inspire me. We all have such different lives but we are always there for each other. To know I have them in my corner supporting me is all I need.

What advice would you give to a young ballerina wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I wish them all the luck in the world and if they are willing to work hard and give it their all then they will succeed.

Abigail’s Favourite Things

Favourite thing about performing at Leeds Grand Theatre?

It feels like home! The theatre is beautiful. Leeds Grand Theatre is the theatre where my family come and watch me perform so it will always hold special memories for me and my family.

Favourite ballet/role?

Every role I get to perform is my favourite for that period of time because you put so much effort and hard work and thought in to it.

At the moment we are rehearsing for Casanova and The Great Gatsby so the roles I’m performing in these ballets are my favourites right now.

Favourite show/act/film you have seen at one of our venues?

I do love watching my colleagues in our productions from the audiences point of view. It’s very interesting to see the other perspective. I learn a great deal from my colleagues and I’m always intrigued to see what the audience feel from our productions, so when I can watch from the auditorium, I do.

Favourite thing to do on your day off?

I love a good Sunday roast, either at home cooked by my husband or equally in a cosy local pub. Most of my days off though are spent resting and getting ready for the next week, making sure I have enough shoes/the right shoes and that I’m on top of what I need to remember for the rehearsals, etc. etc.

I love going for a walk with the dogs and my husband. Spending time with him is so important as we go on tour for many weeks at a time so I always miss him a great deal.

Favourite thing to take with you on tour?

Living out of a suitcase is quite hard at times but there isn’t a particular thing that I always bring with me. If I could pack my dogs, cat and husband in my suitcase I would!

Production photos of Abigail Prudames

Northern Ballet’s Casanova is at Leeds Grand Theatre from 10 – 19 March. Book tickets here