Cupcakes & Conversation with Andile Ndlovu, The Washington Ballet

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Andile Ndlovu, The Washington Ballet

Andile Ndlovu by Steve Vaccariello

Andile Ndlovu by Steve Vaccariello

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?

Nothing really motivates me on a Monday.  I do not like Mondays as it is the first day of the week.

Why ballet ?

I do ballet because it is not a stereotypical activity that people would expect of me as an African.  I love ballet for its teachings, like sacrifice and responsibility.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?

I would dance with Venus Villa from English National Ballet dancing a pas de deux from Don Quixote.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?

I would dance in Italy or England.

What is your daily routine at the moment ?

At the moment my season is finished so I am more relaxed.  I take class, go swimming and go the gym.  I also play video games.

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?

I snack a lot by eating fruits, cookies, peanuts and a lunch consisting of meat.

ballet dancer jumps in the air

Andile Ndlovu

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?

I normally just relax and visualize my show ahead and try not to do much physical activity.

What are you looking forward to dancing in 2012 ?

I am looking forward to performing Dracula with The Washington Ballet in October and also returning to South Aftrica this summer to perform as Ali in Le Corsaire.

How do you deal with the stresses of performing ?

I don’t really stress much.  I just try to stay focused on my next performance but in a positive way.

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?

I would invite Will Smith, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Rachel McAdams, Queen Latifah and Tyler Perry.

What would surprise people about you ?

I can do hip-hop and Latin American dance.  I can sing too!

Who inspired you to dance ?

People who inspire me to dance are Carlos Acosta and choreographers like Jiří Kylián and Wade Robson.  I am also inspired by dancers of this generation who serve to break boundaries.

How would someone else describe you ?

People would describe me as charismatic, I think.

What is your best piece of advice ?

I would advise people never to live in fear that you might fail.  Failure is the “University of Champions.”

ballet dancer crouches down

Andile Ndlovu

Which role has tested you the most & how ?

I was Don Quixote with the South African Ballet Theatre in 2007 and I was fresh out of school and was given a chance to dance a principal role.  I had no experience then.  I also had no idea of how to preserve my energy throughout the ballet.  At the end of the performance my legs were killing me.

What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?

It was actually during one of the shows of Don Quixote.  In the very first sauté basque en dedans when I totally used too much energy and I hit the floor hard!  I had to get up and keep going after that embarrassment but   that solo was also my moment to shine.  Since I have been with The Washington Ballet, I have learned to better pace myself and not use up all my energy at the beginning of a performance.

If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?

I would create a Solos costume for La Bayadère.

A phrase I use far too often is …

“Take it easy man”

Who would play you in the film of your life ?

Will Smith would be my first choice or his son Jaden Smith.

What is your favourite quote?

“Praise makes me humble, but when I am abused I know I have touched the stars.” Oscar Wilde

What’s on your iPod ?

There is a lot of different music in my iPod like hip-hop, Jazz, Latin (salsa), and house music.

Who would you most like to dance for, and why?

I would love to dance for The Royal Ballet because it has a lot of highly acclaimed dancers from the past who have become legends.  Also it is an amazing company that does classical ballet and contemporary.

What makes you a good dance partner ?

I am really fortunate to have bigger hands to help stabilize my partner.  I always think about what the correct leverage is going to be.  Developing the wisdom to apply the right leverage in the right place at the right time is what training and even life is about.

Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about ?


Describe yourself in just three words.

Inspiring, Courageous, Gracious

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year ?

I would like to be dancing more lead roles with The Washington Ballet.  In time, I might like to dance with a ballet company in a different city or country.  I love to travel and would like to spend time in other places.

What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it ?

I haven’t planned an exit strategy but I know I will finish my ballet career with a big bang and never look back.

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