Prix de Lausanne prize winner in 1988, Lisa-Maree Cullum is a Principal Dancer with the Bayerisches Staatsballett, Munich. She will be part of the 2015 Prix de Lausanne’s jury.
What is your best memory of the 1988 Prix de Lausanne?
When the results came out for the semi-finals and my name was there. I just couldn’t believe it, it was an amazing feeling.
What was your greatest fear during the 1988 Prix de Lausanne?
My greatest fear was the raked stage; I had never danced on one before and was very scared.
Can you tell a funny or embarrassing moment on stage at the beginning of your career?
In my first year on tour with ENB, I missed an entrance of the `Flower Waltz´ during a `Nutcracker´ performance. I was sitting in the dressing room when I heard the costume lady running down the corridor screaming my name. With help I was dressed, shoes on, flower in my hair and heading towards the stage in what felt like a few minutes. I had missed all the divertissements, but as the music started and everyone on stage rose from their seats I entered the stage in perfect time to start dancing. Of course my heart was beating like crazy the whole time and with each of my partners came big smiles and funny comments (“ah Lisa, nice of you to join us”). I thought I would die of embarrassment and shame having only joined the company a few months earlier. After the performance, I was called to the office and all I could think of was how was I going to explain to my mother that in my first year with a company I was fired? To my relief, I was given a strong warning not to let something like this ever happen again and sent on my way. It was at the time a horrifying experience and one I learnt a great deal from but when I think back now I must laugh.
Do you have an advice for the 2015 Prix de Lausanne candidates?
My advice, as a young and inexperienced dancer, the Prix de Lausanne was a world away from anything I had ever taken part in before. The interaction with young artists like myself from all over the world was all quite over whelming for a 15 year old girl from New Zealand but I remember being so welcomed and taken care of by the teachers, the pianists ,the organizers…etc. I felt very grateful to be a part of something as prestigious as the Prix de Lausanne. It was a once in a life time opportunity and one I carried with me every day of my career. I hope that the candidates of 2015 will participate with open minds to new experiences and open hearts to exciting surroundings and emotions. I look forward to once again participating myself.