Cupcakes & Conversation with Jonathan Payn, First Soloist, Birmingham Royal Ballet

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Jonathan Payn, First Soloist, Birmingham Royal Ballet

ballet dancer in class

Jonathan Payn Photograph : Andrew Ross

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?

Making coffee for my wife and then taking our daughter to her swimming lesson.

Why ballet?

Because it is there.

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

Only serious cricket fans will understand this but I’d like to dance the ‘sprinkler dance’ with the entire England Cricket team, in front of the Barmy Army, on the outfield of the Sydney Cricket Ground, next time they successfully defend the Ashes Down Under!

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

See answer above.  Also, Birmingham Royal Ballet hasn’t toured much in Europe, even though we are so close.  And Russia, especially St Petersburg, would be exciting.

What is your daily routine at the moment?

One of the best things about being a dancer is that no two days are the same.  However, in general, I always try to spend time with my family in the morning before cycling to work for rehearsals.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show?

I do lot of character parts so physical warm up is not so important for me, however the time spent applying makeup and putting the costume on is vital to get into the role. 

What are you looking forward to dancing in 2011?

I have always been lucky and had good parts in Hobson’s Choice so I’m looking forward to dancing Albert Prosser again (dust down those double tours) and Henry Hobson (a part that has everything). Also Checkmate is coming back and the part of the Red King is fantastic. You are on stage at the end with the most amazing music happening yet you are doing very little. It is so powerful. 

ballet dancer on stage

Jonathan Payn as Baron von Rothbart in Swan Lake Photograph : Bill Cooper

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

Dead and alive – Geoffrey Boycott (for his opinions), Benjamin Britten (my favourite composer), Tony Blair (yeah, I know, but I’d have lots of questions!), Alfred Wainwright (I like fell walking), Michael McIntyre (for the laughs), no women so far…Shirley Williams – the wisest person out there.

What would surprise people about you?

I actually really enjoy my job though sometimes I might not look like it – see frequent references to being moody!

Who inspired you to dance?

Mikhail Baryshnikov. Though now all I can think of is the BBC announcer who introduced a film he was in by saying ‘Barry Shnikov’!

How would someone else describe you?

Quiet, kind and moody.

What is your best piece of advice?

Winston Churchill’s favourite phrase “KBO” (keep bug*ering on)

Which role has tested you the most & how?

Merlin in Arthur.  Massive character and difficult partnering that I never really mastered.  Also Widow Simone in La Fille mal gardée for feeling comfortable in a dress and handling those props.

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

Being at the Royal Variety Performance post show party and being mistaken for a member of a boy band! The look on the face of the autograph hunter when she was working out my signature was priceless.

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

Something that looked fantastic but meant I couldn’t move much!  Got to have a big cloak involved somewhere so I feel at home!

A phrase I use far too often is …

‘We never used to do it like this’

 Who would play you in the film of your life?

Daniel Craig of course (could you see him in a pair of tights!), though I think now a days it would be Robbie Coltrane or Ray Winstone.

ballet dancer on stage laughing

Jonathan Payn as the Burgomaster from Coppélia with Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet Photograph : Roy Smiljanic (3)

What is your favourite quote?

“To thine own self stay true.”

 What’s on your iPod?

Mainly classical music as I love it, though I’m mortified that what tops my Album list is ABBA!  Sometimes on shuffle Shostakovich is followed by Baby Einstein: “Sing and Play”- a musical companion for parents and kids!

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

My daughter.  She would love anything I did.

What makes you a good dance partner?

I’m not!! Ask my partners…

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

My wife would say farting on demand but it isn’t true!

Describe yourself in just three words.

Quiet, kind and moody!

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

To still to have a job and be doing it well.

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