A BALLET DANCER
Interview by Adam Hanula
Perfume and dance share many elements. From artistic curation to long-lasting impression on its recipient. But only one stands out so vividly that makes us wonder: "Is dance and perfume eternally intertwined as a language that anyone can speak?” As the curtain remains drawn on much of our cultural institutions, we sat down with Fraser Roach, a bright new star of The Czech National Ballet and the latest protagonist of our Ad Libitum campaign, to once and for all conclude our question.
Adam: How would you introduce yourself to somebody who has never heard of you or has never seen your work before?
Fraser: I studied the Royal Ballet School in London and later joined the Stuttgart Ballet. I have been working professionally since I was 18 and the journey has lead me to Prague, where I am currently dancing with the Czech National Ballet. I just turned 23 so I am all quite new to this! Oh, and I also do choreography.
A: That's a pretty extensive CV you have there given your relatively young age.
F: Yeah, its funny because I started doing ballet for discipline reasons when I was 8,
and at the time I was like: “Ballet?! No way!”.
A: I once read that there is nothing like backstage at a ballet. The thud of dancers’ feet, the quiet chatter of the crew and ballerinas in leg warmers. I am wondering how does your view of onstage and offstage world differ?
F: It really depends (on the artist). But whenever I am about to go onstage, I like to joke around a lot. If I don’t, I get in my head for what I am about to do onstage. Which means something terrible will go wrong.
A: If you were to see one last ballet, anywhere in the world, which one would you attend? Could you also explain why?
F: I would go and see John Cranko’s Onegin. Just because its quite personal to me. I remember when I was a kid I saw it at the Royal Ballet and the story just stayed with me. You know, its not like any other ballet, there are no fairies, wild animals or men falling in love with birds. It is quite the opposite. A real story in which you affiliate with the characters on so many levels.
A: Most of us — commoners, who spend much of the working day looking at a screen to later repeat the same act at home on sofa, have heard that ballet is a very body-intense career. Stories of mid-aged professional ballet dancers in an early retirement are some sort of stereotype. How does ballet affect your body and mind?
F: This is a hard one, since I just turned 23 and I can’t speak for most. But from my years of doing ballet I noticed that in regard to retirement it varies. With some it can be only to change the profession and career completely. But it is totally normal that dancers get tired of physically working the whole day. You know, ballet is very demanding mentally and you also have to be very disciplined to be constantly willing to “shatter” your body to pieces during rehearsals. Weekends included.
A: On the opposite, what do you adore about your profession?
F: To be completely honest with you I used to hate it. Ballet has kind of robbed me of the things you would do as a teenager. Looking at it now it has given me so much in return. I mean it is hard to wake up every single day knowing you are going to smash your body to bits, but without truly loving the art I would not be able to do it. I was never forced to do it. I had the chance to come back, but I never did it.
A: What perfume are you wearing? And why?
F: It depends, but when at work I mostly wear Burberry. That one is quickly replaced by the smell of hard work though. When I used to live in London I would regularly pass a perfume store on my way to the Opera House and I would always smell one perfume. So one day I just went in and bought it.
With Pigmentarium I am constantly reminded of the nostalgia how we first met with my girlfriend. She constantly wears Murmur and she wore it also the day we met. I guess scents are best for remembering nostalgia, thats for sure.