Although she was born and raised in Germany, Isabelle Brouwers has Italian roots and is now a Londoner: she has been living in the UK for the past 5 years, where she is pursuing a professional career in ballet. After a long day of jury-observed classes and individual coaching sessions, Isabelle sat down with us for a quick chat about the competition circuit, dream companies and what it takes to succeed at this “ballet-thing”:
You started ballet when you were still living in Germany?
I was born and raised in Germany but I actually fell in love with dance when I was in Romania. I watched a performance at the Bucharest Opera House when I was 7 and have been in love with ballet ever since. I started dance at a local ballet school initially just for fun. When I was about 10, I was told that I showed promise.
Because I also really enjoyed dancing, I decided to take a professional career, to train more regularly. By the time I was twelve, my parents thought it was time to send me off to a professional school, so I auditioned for the Royal Ballet School. I was accepted into to the Lower School where I studied for 3 years and transferred to the English National Ballet School – where I am now – in 2011.
How did you apply to the Prix de Lausanne?
The ENBS has a tradition of selecting a few students to apply for the Prix each year. This year, they asked me to try it out and now I am here – the sole representative of my school! I had done the Youth America Grand Prix already which is quite a big competition. I have always loved this environment – not necessarily because I am a competitive person, but because you always meet so many interesting people. For example, here at the Prix de Lausanne, almost everyone I have spoken to has a connection to someone I know… It’s a small world!
Last year, there were 3 girls and a boy from ENBS here at the Prix. Have your colleagues given you any advice, maybe strategies for the week?
They told me that the week goes by extremely quickly, so their advice was to make the best out of every day and to really work hard. I noticed today in the coaching, that I go back to making old mistakes when under this kind of pressure. I have to think about that when I go on stage.
They also said it is important to put the pressure and nerves aside and to show everyone around you that you truly enjoy dancing.
How did you go about choosing your variations?
It was quite a big discussion between my teachers and myself, so many options! I have my own opinions so we discussed for a while and we came to the Gamzatti variation. Mainly because in the past it hadn´t been done a lot. I really love it and I am happy about it.
For contemporary, I chose “Saraband” by Goyo Montero because I fell in love with it instantly. Apparently, a lot of my colleagues agree because I see that many people chose it.
What are your goals for the week?
My main goal this week is to just enjoy it: to get the most out of the different points of each teacher and coach here. I try to stay around backstage or in the studio to listen to the corrections from other girls as well. Even though there are different versions of choreography, it is still helpful to absorb all the input.
What are your dream companies?
Obviously – since I train there – The English National Ballet is a dream. When I read that Tamara Rojo was in the jury, I was so excited! Germany generally is an attractive country for me, the level of classical and contemporary companies is amazing! I love that the audiences in Germany are really appreciative of arts and culture. Stuttgart, Berlin and Dresden have great classical companies, but also the smaller cities have great ensembles!