I first wrote about Claudia Dean in 2010 when she was a student at the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden, London. The Annual Matinee Performance is an annual showcase for the school, and Dean was dancing Fractals, when I commented, “Special mention to Claudia Dean, who made the stage her own.” Dean also danced in MacMillan’s Concerto and I said, “Claudia Dean works her own spotlight to great effect in the Third Movement, with extensions that seem to come from nowhere.”
How fitting, that as we’re just into 2017, Dean is running her own business, Claudia Dean Coaching (stay tuned; more on that later), and has released a video on improving extensions. Part One is here :
In 2011, Dean danced in another Royal Ballet Annual Matinee Performance, this time her graduating year, when I said, “Spring and Fall, Neumeier’s ballet for four dancers – here danced by graduates Claudia Dean (off to the Royal Ballet), Jacopo Bellussi (to the Bavarian State Ballet), Austin Lui (to the Ballet de l’Opera National de Bordeaux) and Tomas Mock (The Royal Ballet) – is a curious blend of elegance and sadness with echoes of Balanchine’s Apollo. Dressed in white, the bare-chested pajama’ed male dancers appear to play games while Dean shows her flowing port de bras to maximum effect.”
Here she is on graduation day with Francesca Hayward, now a Principal with the company.
Fast forward to 2013 and Dean is cast in a Principal role and I interviewed her once again as she prepared. As The Chosen One, from The Rite of Spring, Dean was coached in an exhausting, strong role by ex-Royal Ballet dancer and Director, Monica Mason, herself a Chosen One and a dancer with a strong jump. Dean’s debut was a success.
On July 3rd 2014 the news broke that Dean was leaving the Royal Ballet. Dean had announced the news via her social media feed and said : “When you grow up you’re taught to chase your dreams… I was lucky enough to reach them. Sometimes though, when you get there, they don’t live up to your expectations. Life is too short to not be 100% happy. They say you can’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes and I know there will be people who will not understand, nor agree with this but if I can just ask for everybody to please respect my decision. I have decided to resign from the Royal Ballet Company at the end of the season. I am moving back to Australia, to live a normal life, have a normal job, but most importantly, be surrounded by the people whom I’ve missed greatly and who have supported me for the last 21 years; my family. I’m someone who knows what I want and will always be true to myself. It’s truly incredible where life can take you and what it can bring to you. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey over the last 5 years here in London – it’s been amazing! But I am beyond excited to start this new chapter in my life and…Cheers to new beginnings!!! 🙂 X”
Always one to know her own mind, Dean had previously said in a magazine interview in May 2014 (What it really takes to dance the dream) “I am not the typical ballerina and I don’t pretend to be. I like rap. I like the colour pink. I like to stand out and I am proud of that.”
To say that Dean’s resignation was a shock to the ballet community is to underestimate its impact : she was a dancer being fast-tracked to Principal status.
After her return to her native Australia I interviewed her again, where she told me : “I will always remember my time at The Royal Ballet as one of the most special memories of my life. Since I started ballet, it was my dream to be in that company, dancing a principal role on the Covent Garden stage – and I did it! Achieving that through my own hard work was very fulfilling and I feel as though I achieved what I had always set out to do. Although, as they say, always follow your gut. At the end of my last season with The Royal Ballet, after I had performed some amazing roles, I knew in myself that in this company those roles were the ones that I would be performing & would be cast to learn for the next 10 years. I was 21, in the Corps de Ballet, but as a person I am someone who always wants more and more. And more! I never settle for second best, so after much discussion with my director I came to the realistic decision that the company wasn’t going to give me what I needed in order for me to feel satisfied throughout my career.”
Claudia Dean Coaching was born some months after her return home, and she’s never looked back, opening her own studio as well as being in demand, adjudicating around Australia. Launching a YouTube channel last year, her tutorials are filled with technique based lessons on improving specific areas of performance. Here are the first tutorials & tips :