My Dance Hero: Grace Horler on Zenaida Yanowsky

My Dance Hero

Grace Horler (nearest to camera) and Scottish Ballet dancers rehearsing Emergence / credit: Andy Ross

Scottish Ballet dancer explains how the former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet inspired her

As one of the five leading ballet companies in the UK, Scottish Ballet are renowned for their pioneering spirit and staging of exciting new works, enjoyed in both cities and more rural areas around the country. Having produced and toured productions locally and internationally since 1969, the company continues to inspire and support future generations of dancers through programmes, projects and special initiatives.

To get an insight to their influences, we caught up with four dancers at Scottish Ballet who have drawn inspiration from some of the top stars of the ballet world. In this first installment, Grace Horler discusses Zenaida Yanowsky, who until her recent retirement was the principle dancer for the Royal Ballet, London.

Who is your dance hero?
Zenaida Yanowsky, who has just recently retired after dancing with the Royal Ballet for 23 years. During this time, she was the company's tallest principal ballerina.

When did you first discover her?
When I joined the Royal Ballet School at the age of 11. I always admired her dancing, however she became my biggest inspiration when, aged 15, I had grown from one of the smallest in my class to the tallest. With all the negativity that came with my height, Zenaida gave me the confidence to think "Yes, I may be tall but that's something I cannot change. Instead I'm going to use it to my advantage and prove to everyone that I can still do it".

What is it about Zanaida's work that appeals to you?
Zenaida can take on any role and not only dance it beautifully but act the part so convincingly that she leaves you in tears during Manon and fits of laughter in Alice in Wonderland. Her versatility and quality of movement is something I aspire to achieve.

In what way has Zanaida influenced the dancer you have become?
Zenaida has shown me that performing is more than executing steps; it's sharing an emotion with the audience. Also, a dancer isn't just a dancer on stage, it's their whole being and having spent time working with Zenaida, I realise how genuinely lovely she is and this is the type of role model I hope to be.

Grace Horler is performing in Kenneth MacMillan's The Fairy's Kiss (now touring) and in The Nutcracker (from Sat 9 Dec, Edinburgh).

Scottish Ballet: The Nutcracker

The festive favourite set to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score. Peter Darrell’s production of The Nutcracker is unique in that the main character, Clara, is danced by a young girl performing alongside the Company’s 40 professional dancers. Booking is essential.

Scottish Ballet: Stravinsky

Two contrasting works set to the music of Stravinsky: The Fairy's Kiss by Kenneth MacMillan and Christopher Hampson's The Rite of Spring.

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