Cupcakes & Conversation with William Newton, Corps de Ballet, Houston Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
All the roles I would love to have the opportunity to perform one day…are one of the few things that can persuade me to get up at 8am. Regrettably, I am not a morning person.
After nine years of competitive sports, ballet was an opportunity for me to stay active while also providing an artistic outlet. I feel that going to work every day I am not just growing as a dancer, but as a person as well.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?
Alessandra Ferri performing Manon.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
The Opera Garnier, Paris. Although I believe that art can thrive anywhere, it doesn’t hurt to perform in one of the most beautiful theatres ever built.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
Shower, dinner, nap, smoothie.
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2012/13?
There are so many fantastic works in Houston Ballet’s rep this season, it’s hard to narrow them down. The Concert is one of the ballets that I fell in love with while I was in the second company. Jerome Robbins is a master and The Concert is particularly unique in its brilliant comic elements. Personally, I relish the opportunity to repeat ballets to challenge myself to improve, so Stanton Welch’s La Bayadere and Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker are also ballets I am looking forward to.
How do you deal with the stresses of performing?
I savour it. I tend to get nervous when I am performing something that means a lot to me. When that happens, I have to take a step back and realize how fortunate I am to be a dancer and have the opportunity to perform that particular role.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
Jiri Kylian, Groucho Marx, Frank Sinatra, Urban Meyer, Claude Monet, and Albert Einstein.
What would surprise people about you?
I played on a select, traveling basketball team in middle-school.
Who inspired you to dance?
Originally my sister. After five years of basketball, six years of soccer and nine years of baseball, my sister convinced me to take a few ballet classes in preparation of my first year of (American) football. After the season ended I decided ballet would be my next athletic venture. Before I knew that I wanted to make a career out of ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov was my inspiration. He is and will forever be a dance legend.
How would someone else describe you?
I may never know; although I would guess that the phrase “avid sports fan” would be a part of it.
What is your best piece of advice?
Know who you are as a person, and what you live by.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
Stanton Welch’s Indigo. The speed and precision required in that ballet is unmatched in the rep I have performed thus far in my career. I hope to have the honor of being tested again by that ballet later in my career.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
This past spring we performed Giselle at Miller Outdoor Theatre near downtown Houston. During the first act, a huge thunderstorm formed directly over the theatre. Even with the stage and the audience being covered, it did nothing to stop the rain that was coming in sideways. To make a long story short, within fifteen minutes we had a mostly wet stage and all remaining audience members piled against it. Although we were forced to stop dancing in the middle of the first act, I will never forget everyone desperately trying to contain their laughter while performing in front of one of the best audiences ever.
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create?
Something that showed the beauty of the dancer’s bodies to the fullest. When dancer’s lines and movement are hindered by their costume, it does nothing for them or the audience.
A phrase I use far too often is…
“I’m half kidding.”
Who would play you in the film of your life?
Robert Downey Jr. He tends to depict a character that appears to be on a slightly different channel than others, which I find myself in at times.
What is your favourite quote?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
What’s on your iPod?
What isn’t on my iPod. Frank Sinatra is someone I can always listen to no matter what mood I’m in. I’m looking forward to Mumford and Sons new album as well.
Who would you most like to dance for, and why?
Anyone who loves art. As dancers we are so privileged to have the opportunity to touch so many people. I believe that ballet is unique in that it can appeal to a broad range of art lovers. One of the most rewarding experiences I have had is knowing that I have touched someone through my performance.
What makes you a good dance partner?
Technique, experience and selflessness. The best male partners do whatever it takes to make their partner look her best, and that is what I strive for.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year?
I would like to be a more humble, experienced and technical dancer with a greater appreciation and love for my art form.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?
My exit strategy is constantly evolving. I have always had a strong interest in business, and would love to become an entrepreneur.