American dancer Eric Snyder, a second-year student at English National Ballet School, is performing as Prince Désiré in My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty. We caught up with him to see how he first started dancing, and what it’s been like performing in this new version of the fairy tale classic for children as young as three.
What or who inspired you to take up ballet? Can you remember the first lesson or performance you attended?
Throughout my childhood, the theatre was a major aspect of my upbringing. As a child I participated in musical theatre, where I was first introduced to the thrill of live performance. I remember some of my neighbours and peers from my local community theatre that took ballet lessons, and I was captivated by the beauty and splendour of it. I began training seriously around the age of ten at Yuma Ballet Academy, where a lifelong passion was born. Though I do not remember my first class, I hear stories of how my instructor spoke to my mother and insisted that ballet is what I am destined to do.
What did it mean to you to get a place at English National Ballet School?
Having a spot at the English National Ballet School meant opportunity and exposure to me. Coming from a small-town studio, training at a high-caliber ballet school was a huge step to take in my dance career. Being a student at this school sets me up to have an almost definite professional career, which ensures a secure future.
What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to dance in My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty?
Participating in My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty gives us all a taste of professional life. The rehearsal process along with the difficulties of fatigue, injury, and long hours at the studio teaches us how to handle the strain and properly manage our bodies. Above all, we were able to mature artistically and develop more stage experience. My love of dancing grew from my love of performing on stage, so this process has me looking forward to returning to the stage once again.
Tell us about the role you have been rehearsing – what are the best bits and the challenges?
I am cast as Prince Désiré, which I have been very excited about. It has been a while since I have been able to work on and develop a role in a show, so I was thrilled to find out I would be able to interpret such a vital character in this story. A prince is a challenging character to interpret in itself, due to the fact that it is a very tired role which has been done so many times before. It has been a challenge to take this character and make him fresh and relatable, especially to such a young audience.
You’ll be taking My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty on tour around the country – what about touring are you looking forward to most?
I have been looking forward to visiting new places and broadening my horizons even more. Since I moved to London, I have not had the opportunity to travel locally, so I am excited to continue to explore the country while bringing my dancing to new people in new places.
How does it feel knowing that your performances of My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty often give children their first experience of ballet?
It is an honour, really. Experiencing ballet for the first time is a very magical thing, so I am excited to have the opportunity to share that with these young people. I also believe that it is my duty as a dancer to inspire and encourage younger audiences to become future dancers and spectators. This way ballet lives on, and continues to inspire for generations to come.
What are your future career plans and aspirations?
I plan on pursuing ballet as a professional career with a major dance company. I wish to continue dancing in Europe and hope to have the opportunity to dissect and analyse roles such as this one. I also hope that I continue to expose the magic of ballet to different lives.