At the risk of sounding like bad plumbing and overly gushing, I was beyond delighted when Dominic North agreed to a little interview with Magpie. I’ve seen him dance many times in Matthew Bourne’s ballets – not least in Swan Lake where he played the troubled Prince who is eventually rescued from his life by the Swan. I’ve also been lucky enough to see him in the Red Shoes, Cinderella and Nutcracker! and won’t lie one little bit when I say that I sit in the theatre in awe of him and his fellow dancers in what is one of my truly happy places to be…
Life must have changed fundamentally for you in 2020 – what have you been doing to keep yourself sane? Yes it’s been a totally different year to what I’m used to. I’ve spent all of mine time mainly in one place. Which is not what I’m used to. I think I’ve done what most people people have done. Cooking new things, a lot of watching tv series, drinking, BBQ, huge amounts of FaceTime, D.I.Y.
We were lucky as the company (New Adventures) provided us with online classes. We have had fitness, yoga, ballet, contemporary & jazz Monday-Friday for most of the time. That’s helped keep our technique and strength up. Plus, it’s given the days and weeks some structure.
Have you been able to rehearse at all? Not much. We managed to do some workshop training in the studio in the summer. It was great and my first time in the studio wearing a mask and being socially distanced. Then in October and November we were lucky to manage some filmed projects (Spitfire & A Christmas Wish). We did the first rehearsal over Zoom. Then adapted the choreography so in a six person piece (Spitfire) we would only touch one other person.
Where have you spent most of your time during lockdown? At home with my family, which I’m really enjoying. I’m usually always on the move touring the country or world. So it’s been a novelty to put the suitcase away for a bit. I’m massively missing performing but you’ve got to try keep positive.
If you hadn’t become a ballet dancer what might you have been? Not a clue. I would’ve probably ended up in an office job. My A levels were in Maths, Geography, Economics, Physics and General Studies. But I didn’t do very well in them, but I had a great time!!
If you could give your younger self some advice what would it be? Nothing major to be honest. Just to enjoy it, which I think I’ve tried to do. Whether you dance as a hobby or a career. It’s not the longest career but has given me the most amazing experiences.
What’s your favourite role and what’s the role that you covet? I just can’t choose a favourite. All of them for different reasons. I been so lucky to do some of the best: Angelo in The Car Man is a fantastic role I’d always wanted to do. Edward Scissorhands is awesome and it was the first big role I got to do regularly. The Prince in Swan Lake is iconic and has been a huge part of my life as I performed it over a 15 year period!! I’ve been lucky enough to help create roles too. So Ralph in Lord of the Flies, Leo in Sleeping Beauty and Julian in The Red Shoes have a special place for me. Performing Fritz in Nutcracker! is the most fun I’ve ever had onstage. Getting to return to Cinderella as it was a show I’d not performed much. The Pilot in it was created by Adam Cooper who’s been an idol of mine for decades.
I don’t have a particular role that I covet. There’s many great ones I haven’t done. There’s a couple of shows that I haven’t performed in. So I’d probably say them (Play Without Words, Highland Fling, R&J). Or I’d love to do another new creation at some point. So fingers crossed.
As a boy from the north of England, did your journey to ballet echo that of Billy Elliott or is that just a cliché? Yes and no. My family were massively supportive of me dancing. Also fortunately I wasn’t the only boy at my school to dance – there was another boy in my class. I did other sport along side dancing so the comparison did happen. If I was in a local newspaper then the headline would be something like ‘Leeds’ own Billy Elliot’. I’ve never minded that as it’s a great film and pushed ballet into popular culture. It even has Adam Cooper as grown up Billy performing in (Matthew Bourne’s) Swan Lake at the end of the film.
What advice would you give aspiring dancers? Watch as much dance as you can. We very lucky there’s so much online and filmed nowadays. Then you’ll know what you like. Musicals, contemporary dance, a specific classical company. But don’t pigeon hole yourself be as versatile as you can – especially in your training.
What they’re going through right now must be really hard. Not being able to dance as well or as much as they want. Dancing at home or on Zoom instead of a studio is very different. But they can use this difficult time to help them in life or the industry. It takes dedication and perseverance but doing what you love as a career is best thing.
And a few randoms…
What I’m reading at the moment: I’m not reading anything to be honest. The last books I read were actually onstage. In The Car Man I used to read in the pre show & I’m a scene where Luca enters the town. I got through To Kill a Mocking Bird and Catcher in the Rye in three months. Offstage I read Lord of the Flies a while ago as research for returning to the show. So I guess all the reading I do is research. I should try change that. Any suggestions?
The book I should have read but didn’t: Jane Eyre and Of Mice and Men. I thought I would’ve got round to them by now. Maybe soon…
The last film I watched: It was Home Alone 2. Absolute classic to get me in the Christmas mood.
Guilty pleasures: Not sure I have any. Maybe bad but good to me 80’s films.
Music that makes me feel happy: Funky house with gospel vocals, 90’s RnB 00’s Hip Hop all perfect for playing in the dressing room before a show!!!
Fantasy dinner party guests: Quite a few of my friends have passed away so I’d like to see them again. Celebrity wise there’s so many to choose Denzel Washington, Olivia Coleman, Beyonce, Daniel Day Lewis, DJ Spen, Roger Federer, Dr Dre, Michael Jordan, Michelle Obama, Hugh Jackman, Sid Siddiqui from Googlebox. I could go on forever
.Four things to take to a desert island: Eva Mendes!!! No I’m joking 😬 – Do you need to be practical and say something like matchsticks? I’ll go with my family, loads and loads of beers, a hammock and a deck of cards.
Three wishes for 2021: Just one really. Some normality please. Theatre, seeing friends, cinema, doing class in a studio, Nando’s, drinks in a pub, anything. To get back to performing to full auditoriums…