Corphyée dancer, Dresden Semperoper Ballet


Photo by Ian Whalen

Gina Scott’s large eyes sparkled with innocence and curiosity, fringed by a thick swath of reddish-brown bangs that sat heavily against her ivory skin. Her smile is nothing but delightful, framed by the delicate chin of her heart shaped face. She looks like she has stepped out of a fairy tale, and it’s easy to see why one of her most memorable roles is Aurora, in the ballet Sleeping Beauty. Yet, her steady gaze reflects a side of her that is equally grounded in reality.

After morning classes, I met Scott at the canteen inside the Dresden Semperoper. Everyone working in the opera house comes here at some point during the day, a gathering place of dancers, musicians, opera singers, costumers, and other artistic and administration staff. Scott sat, poised, across the table from me, wearing a dark green puffy vest over a T-shirt; the colour of the vest contrasted sharply with the red highlights in her hair. In half an hour, she will go to a class to learn how to use the Pilates Reformer equipment that the Semperoper Ballet recently bought for its dancers. She told me that she is quite appreciative of this, as the equipment conditions muscles in ways that are particularly helpful to dancers.

Scott gave me her career highlights to date. Upon graduating from the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden, she sent out a number of applications to ballet companies and the Semperoper Ballet made her the best offer. Since joining the corps de ballet in 2011, she has been promoted to corphyées. She’s humbly grateful for the roles she’s had so far, including Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Terpsichore in Apollo, and Nikiya in La Bayadère. As the understudy for Nikiya, she stepped up to the challenge with only a few days to the performance, after the original dancer was unable to continue. “It happened so quickly, I didn’t even have time to reflect on the experience,” she added, “it was tough, but the role gave me the chance to expand my abilities, and to partner with Principal Dancer, Jiří Bubeníček.” I asked if she preferred to partner with dancers who were more experienced than her, to which she replied diplomatically, “Dancing with a principal is a great opportunity to learn from them, but, dancing with a junior member is a chance to learn together.” Scott is very articulate, and was keen to demonstrate her work ethic, her readiness and her positive frame of mind, such qualities that can be equally important to a dancer’s career. She eloquently praised her colleagues – “Within the company, everyone plays an important part, from corps to principal.”

Her whimsical innocence came through once more when she spoke about dancing and how much she loved jumps. With a genuinely candid smile, she described how she loved to feel exhausted after a performance, the absence of which she would feel that she hadn’t given her full effort. She’s happy that the dancers in the company are some of her closest friends; they hang out together and get along. She recalled the fun they had while on tour in Abu Dhabi, jet skiing and sightseeing during their free day.

Like many ballerinas, Scott aspires to be a principal dancer at a large company. But for now, she knows her place. “What I want now is to get as much experience as I can,” she said assuredly. Scott is not unique in her ambitions, but she’s conscious that a solid dance career relies not only on dancing well, but also in developing a personality that will help her maneuver through the challenges.