Interviewing Harry Skoupas: Dancer at The Northern Ballet
Describe a day in the life of a dancer:
This always starts with good rest, that’s hugely important. At Northern Ballet I could be dancing up to eight hours in a day, so rest is key… rest and a good diet. Each day starts with training. This involves working on technique so you are prepared for the rehearsals to follow. We always get a much needed one hour break for lunch before we continue and finish the day at 18.30.
Whilst we are performing, the schedule is different. The day will start later (as we are dancing late in the evenings) and will involve stage calls so that everyone has chance to become acquainted with the stage. Stages vary greatly in size and shape, so it is vital. Also some stages have a ‘rake’ which is a slight decline towards the auditorium. This makes it easier for people to see but it can be very strange to dance on if you are not used to it!
You joined Northern Ballet last autumn after dancing in Poland for several years with Opera Wrocławska. Tell us about your experience of working with the Company so far; what have been the highlights and what have you learned?
I arrived in the UK in December 2021 as I recently married. A temporary contract came up for this season and I auditioned and was offered a place on this basis. Not long after, I was delighted to receive a permanent contract!
The highlight of my time with Northern Ballet has been performing in Casanova. Due to the pandemic, performances have been hugely disrupted and it is wonderful to be back in the theatre… particularly so with such a great bunch of people. The quality of dancing and musicianship is totally inspiring and it makes you want to come to work each day. Every day is different and exciting and often challenging in a way that really makes you think about and appreciate the environment you are working in.
This spring Northern Ballet will be performing Casanova and The Great Gatsby. Are you involved in these productions, and can you tell us a bit about how they are coming to life?
Putting together Casanova has been a great challenge and a way for me to introduce myself to the company. You really feel the teamwork in Northern Ballet and the support of your colleagues; it is always a group effort. Our ballet staff are fantastic at giving us all the information we need and ensuring the show is performed at its highest level. We are currently working on The Great Gatsby, which is opening in Edinburgh on 21 April. It is a totally different style of music and dance to Casanova, so it brings a great deal of variety to the repertoire.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to become a professional dancer?
- Ask yourself how much you want this and how much you are willing to put into it
- Dancing is not just a profession but a vocation
- Look after yourself physically and mentally, it's a journey of self-discovery
Who particularly inspires you in your work as a dancer?
There have been many people along the way but one of the most important was a ballet teacher from Athens (Emi Korfia) who made me truly made believe in myself and aim high. It is also really important to have friends and family who support you and understand the personal commitments that are required.