She got a job at ENB after a lonely apprenticeship at the Royal Ballet, where she remembers “not talking for six months”. At the Royal Ballet “they look at me: ‘how dare you talk to us!’ ” There is a ranking here, too. As a first artist you don’t address a principal, you wait to be spoken to. But it’s not a bitchy company, more “a big family with spats”.
What is the worst thing about being a dancer? Not the pay, as I incorrectly heard several times. It’s the pain — constant, debilitating and all over the body. The pay, while we’re on the subject, is awful. At a base rate of £17,000, it would make nurses and teachers, even street sweepers, blanch. But a ballet dancer would never go on strike. This is a matter of pride. We are not like footballers, says Adela. Footballers don’t even do half of the things that we do. And they do it for money! Dancers, they do it because it’s just the greatest privilege in the world. “I don’t have a lot of money but, you know, I can go to the cinema,” says Rachel. Andre says: “It’s not really tragic, our life.”
The above stuck out for me. I thought perhaps with the long tradition of ballet in Britain that life would be better for dancers.