Homegrown ballerina Laura Bosenberg enjoyed the dream journey from local ballet school to joining the Cape Town City Ballet, rising from the corps to becoming principal dancer. Laura has danced all the classic roles from Sleeping Beauty to Romeo & Juliet.
On top of a demanding dance career, Laura launched her own business featuring the ballet character ‘Ballet Betty‘ on gift cards, clothing and dance accessories.
Laura has a gorgeous Instagram ‘Cape Town Ballerina‘ which caught the eye of The Wonderful World of Dance and we asked her about dancing in South Africa.
When did you first start ballet and what inspired you to become a professional ballerina?
I first started ballet at the age of 4. I fell in love with watching live performances at the Opera House. Everything about it inspired me! The lights, costumes, sparkles, music, acting.
What was it like growing up and dancing in Cape Town?
It was great growing up in such a beautiful city and being able to dance with my friends and family around me. I have a wonderful support system.
Cape Town allowed me to have a very diverse upbringing, I could climb the mountains as well as swim in the sea. It’s a very outdoorsy city with so much to offer. At school we did everything, swimming, athletics, art, as well as ballet. I only really concentrated on ballet in my teen years.
What has been your greatest lesson throughout your career?
I have learnt many lessons throughout my career. Hard work and dedication is key. You have to look after your body even though you feel like you need to push it over the edge, this is very important as your body is your tool. Sometimes this is testing as we always want to push ourselves but if you want a strong, healthy, long career, listen to your body.
In the beginning it’s all about the rules and the correct way of doing things technically, which is very important. But as I get older I’m enjoying letting go a bit more artistically and I’m enjoying moving in a different way. There’s a great freedom of movement that comes with age.
Describe your typical day with the Cape Town City Ballet
We have class at 10 until 11.15 then a short break. From 11.30 until 1.30 it’s rehearsal time. Lunch is 1 hour long. From 2.30 until 6pm we continue with rehearsals. If there’s an evening show we usually have the afternoon off to prepare for the show.
You’ve danced all the great classical roles, what’s your favourite role and why?
I have 3 standout classical roles – I adore Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Carmen, and Camille (La Traviata).
For these roles you really have to dig deep and explore the character. I love dramatic ballets. Acting for me is great fun, I love becoming a different character and really telling the story. Also the music from these 3 ballets is so moving you feel it in your soul!
Is there a dream role you want to dance?
I’m very lucky to have performed most of the roles I dreamt of dancing. My next goal is Kitri in Don Quixote. I’m excited to say that it looks like we’ll be performing Don Quixote this year!
What do you love most about being a ballerina?
There are so many things that I love about being a ballerina! The costumes, the music – I love performing on stage and bringing the audience into our story. I love the fact that we collaborate with other artists in the theatre world. Working in live theatre is very exciting. I also love how athletic it is. We get to work out every day! Ballerinas are athletes as well as artists.
What has been your greatest challenge in your career?
At the end of 2015 I had to have hip operation. I have never been off dancing for so long, so it was very strange for me. I had to find ways to keep fit and keep my mind occupied. It was a very good lesson for me actually. I discovered life outside of the dance world. I had to be very disciplined with the rehabilitation in order to return to work good as new. It was a positive experience and my hip is great!
How do you avoid injuries?
I avoid injury by making sure that I’m warm before I dance and not going over board if I feel that something is not ‘good sore’. I also try to strengthen my weak areas by going to gym and doing the specific exercises that I need for my body.
Who inspires you in the dance world?
Lots of things inspire me when it comes to my work. Every day I am inspired by my colleagues, I think everyone has something special to offer and I love that. I love watching all the fabulous principal dancers from other companies around the world – I find that very inspirational. When I’m onstage the music inspires me.
Do you ever get stage fright and how do you deal with it?
This has become a challenge for me because as I’m getting older I’m getting more nervous when I perform. I try to overcome this with positive self talk and enough rehearsal time in the studio which makes me feel more confident.
If I feel like I’m getting really nervous on stage I decide to channel the character I’m dancing/acting, so I tell myself it’s not me on stage, I’m now Carmen or Juliet, so I have no need to be nervous!
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I think people would be surprised to see that I’m not a girly-girl. I love the great outdoors, getting dirty camping, watching Top Gear and athletic sports activities. I leave the fairy princess magic for the stage!
If you hadn’t joined the Cape Town City Ballet, is there a ballet company you would like to have danced with?
If I wasn’t with CTCB I’m not sure where I would have landed up? I admire too many companies to say that I would only want to dance with one other besides CTCB. There are so many amazing companies all over the world but I think European companies suit my style best.
Do you know what you’ll do once you finally leave the stage?
When I leave the stage I’d love to coach ballet professionals one on one. I have an eye for seeing how you can fix problem areas. I have also started my own business called Ballet Betty. Ballet Betty is my character I’ve created and her story is on gift cards and different dance accessories.
What advice would you give to young aspiring ballet dancers?
No one is you..and that is your power! As Gary Player says, ‘The more you practise the luckier you get. Work hard and enjoy your own journey’.