Cupcakes & Conversation with Christopher Hinton-Lewis, The Royal New Zealand Ballet
Today the Royal New Zealand Ballet will announce that Chris is retiring after the UK season so will not be returning to New Zealand with the company.
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
I’m terrible at getting up in the morning. I’m definitely not a morning person. Luckily my flat is 5mins away from work.
It all started because of my sister. I used to wait in the car while she did ballet, which as an eight year old is not easy I can tell you. So after many weeks of sitting in the car, I asked my mum if I could join in. She was a bit surprised but she took me along and my first class was in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. It just went from there.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
At the moment it starts at 9am with 30mins of Pilates before an hour and a half of class. Then we rehearse till 5:30pm for the up and coming tour of the UK and France. Depending on the day I’ll either go for a run or head off to Wing Tsun, which is a form of martial arts.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?
Weetabix and juice for breakfast and I’ll pick up a flat white on the way to work – the coffee over here is really good. Sometimes I’ll have a Berocca in my water bottle during class followed by an apple after class if I’m hungry. I head home for lunch, as my flat is a 5min walk from work, and have a couple of sandwiches and a biscuit or two. For dinner maybe some pasta or chicken with salad or my favourite, enchiladas. This of course is followed by a couple cups of tea. You can’t beat a good cuppa.
What would surprise people about you?
Not much. What you see is what you get.
The people around me. My parents are very supportive and have encouraged me all the way. Even when you’re having a bad patch they are always there with encouragement. My first dance teacher was also a great help. She would take me to watch productions of BRB and other companies that were performing at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
How would someone else describe you?
Ok, they my say nice bloke, but bloody hard to understand with that brummie accent. Then I would say I’m not a brummie, I’m from Wolverhampton.
What is your best piece of advice?
Enjoy whatever you do, and if there is something that you want to achieve then go ahead and give it your best shot. You never know until you try.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
Every role has its challenges, in some way or another. The role of Hamlet was a big test because it was a role that was created on me, but also it’s such a famous role, and if you get it wrong by God you’ll read about it from the critics. Also performing and trying different styles of dance that take you out of your comfort zone. It’s good to push yourself, even though it might not be easy; the reward for achieving your goal can be more rewarding.
A phrase I use far too often is….
I don’t think I have one to be honest.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
Probably someone a bit clumsy, a little funny and with a warm heart, maybe someone like Owen Wilson.
What is your favourite quote?
I’m sorry I don’t have one.
What’s on your iPod?
At the moment there’s a wide variety of music from classical to the likes of the Kings of Leon, to the sound track of The Boat that Rocked to comedy pod casts. I have tracks that I like to listen to just before I do a show either to motivate or just put me in a particular frame of mind. For example I would listen to The Rolling Stones, Paint it Black just before going on stage when performing Dracula because the words just helped to focus my mind on the character and who he was.
What makes you a good dance partner?
I was once told that the best compliment you can get as a partner is, “I’m sorry I never noticed you as the girl looked so beautiful and at ease.” So that’s what I aim for.
Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about?
Well I can hang doors, help put new kitchens in, lay floorboards and I can bake a little. My parents believed in teaching me and my sister some skills from their jobs, so when we were old enough my dad took us to the building sites and taught us a bit of carpentry and mum taught us how to bake.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Hardworking, generous and fun.
You moved to dance with the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2010 to fulfil a schoolboy dream to live down under. Has life in New Zealand lived up to expectations and what have you gained from the experience of living and dancing there?
Yeah this was something I always wanted to do since I was 15-16 years old and I decided that if I didn’t do it now then I probably never would. I’ve had a great time here and have enjoyed every moment. Things here are very laid back and no one is in a big hurry which is such a nice change from the hustle and bustle of the UK. It’s personally given me time to think and see the bigger picture. From a dancing point of view it’s been good to learn new works, and to challenge myself with a wide variety of work from different choreographers. It’s also been great to feed off different dancers and to see what other people look for and get from dance.
What or who did you miss most from the UK?
I missed my girlfriend, Martha Leebolt, very much. Especially as I haven’t been there to see all the great things that she’s accomplished this year, such as winning a critics award.
What’s next, post – retirement?
I wouldn’t say retirement as I’m only 32. To be honest I don’t know. Let’s roll the dice and see what happens. I would love to stay in dance or the theatre business somehow but we’ll see what happens. I might go into something totally different. Who knows….
Watch a video clip from NZTV