Ten minutes with… Zoë Ashe-Browne

Ten minutes with… Zoë Ashe-Browne

DUBLIN-based ballerina Zoë Ashe-Browne, 24, will be heading to the capital next month for the National Ballet of Ireland’s London debut of Carmen, the story of a young, naïve soldier Jose, who is bewitched by a beautiful and fiery gypsy.

We spent 10 minutes with Carmen’s lead ballerina, Zoë, while she was deep in rehearsals for the show…

This is the 25th performance of the current production of Carmen, how do you still maintain the energy levels and passion on stage for your audiences?

Well, this time around there’s only four performances. Before, when we were doing a long two month tour of it and you’re tired and on tour in different hotels and it’s all unfamiliar and uncomfortable, you just have to remind yourself that the people that are coming to watch tonight are seeing it for the very first time.

You have to maintain the fresh essence that you gave in the opening night because it’s just unfair to the audience otherwise.

What can the London audience expect from the show?

They can expect a really vibrant show, and I think a fresh take on Carmen that they won’t have seen before. Also, a brilliant twist on the music because we have this Irish Flamenco guitarist called John Walsh with us on stage.

There’s live music and an intimate environment, which is a really nice aspect of the show and definitely one that the Irish audiences warmed to.

There’s a lot of energy and there’s a really lovely atmosphere on stage as well because we all know each other really well. There’s definitely a vibe of a party on stage and the audience want to join in, that’s the way I see it.

Is this your first time performing in London?

No, I’ve performed in London in Romeo and Juliet  in 2010 and in Cinderella in 2009, both with Ballet Ireland, and then off course I was with the English National Ballet last year, having trained with the school between 2007-2009, so I performed at the Coliseum quite a lot. But, never the main character.

What are you looking forward to most about returning to the London stage to perform?

I think I’m looking forward to bringing the show to London because from a personal perspective a lot of my friends who are also dancers who work in London are really excited to see the show. I think there’s been quite a lot of hype from it and even on social media people know about the show and people are really excited to see it.

I’m nervous because London is a really educated audience, they know what they like. It has to be a really great show and I have to focus on not letting my nerves get the better of me. It’s kind of a mix of nerves and massive anticipation.

It’s also an opportunity to showcase Irish ballet to a wider audience?

Yeah, definitely. Ballet Ireland has always been a really strong company, a company which many people have given many years of their career to, and it’s a company that could perform in London more and more given the opportunity.

It’s also an opportunity to showcase a wonderful choreographer. Morgann (Runacre-temple) is a young female choreographer, which is such a rare thing in itself, and to have someone like her start her career and develop it in one place it’s a really beautiful and original thing.

Could you describe your current training regime as you get closer to the performance?

The rehearsals are really intense, it’s an hour and 15 minute class every morning and then it’s straight into rehearsals. In the build-up we need to be doing class and going to the gym and just feeling really prepared. At the moment our days are 10am-6pm of constant rehearsing.

Did your passion for ballet begin at a young age?

I think it was something I really enjoyed as a hobby as a child, and because neither of my parents were dancers they just went along with it as an extra-curricular activity and then I went to London for summer schools. I was probably 13 or 14 when I started to enjoy the intense side of it.

I met girls who were training in Europe and I was really inspired by people my own age that were so advanced and so brilliant, so I think it was around that age when I decided I wanted to pursue it seriously. It’s not been a straightforward journey, but an exciting journey since then.

Carmen will be performed by Ballet Ireland at Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, London on June 3 & 4 at 7.45pm. Tickets: £18/£16