Profile | Brooke Lockett: Dancer with the Australian Ballet
Dance is all a dancer usually thinks about. From a young age the passion is formed and fostered and the need to dance never really stops. Well, that’s the case for Australian Ballet dancer Brooke Lockett. Still in the midst of a flourishing career on some of the most coveted stages in Australia and around the globe, Brooke speaks to THE UPSIDE about looking outside of the ‘ballet bubble.’
Can you run us through a day in your life?
A usual day starts at about 7am or 8am depending on whether I have had a show the night before. I love the morning and usually attend to emails and potter around at home a little before getting to work. A few mornings a week I will do early morning yoga or Pilates class to clear my head. Then it’s into the ballet studio at 10:30am every day for a ballet class; warming up the body and practising our craft.
I find that hour and 15 minutes almost mediative. You are solely checking in on yourself and focussing on the day of rehearsals ahead. Also in world of social media and email where everyone wants a piece of you 24/7, studio time is where I cannot be interrupted. We then have a little 15 minute break before starting a day of rehearsals. This can vary from swans in Swan Lake, Nijinsky, Coppélia, a new work or gala exerts. We take an hour and 15 for lunch where you might get physio or a massage if you need it, pop upstairs to the gym to do some Pilates or head outside for a coffee and lunch in the sunshine before heading back into the studio until 6:30pm. On a performance day we rehears until 3pm and then have a 7:30pm show.
“I feel so fortunate to have lived a life where my childhood passion came true.”
My schedule goes in ebbs and flows. Sometimes it is completely all consuming and I barely have a moment to breathe and other times I’m not too busy and have more time for outside projects. You just tend to get better at managing it as you get older. I have a few outside projects so I seem to always be juggling my time and living life in the fast lane. That’s where I seem to function my best. I’m mostly an artist and part business minded. When performing, a normal day at work can be 10:30am – 11:30pm then I need to get home, have some supper, and wind down. It’s a crazy lifestyle and elements of my personal life can suffer at times.
How did you find ballet?
My mum danced, so she sent me when I was three. She thought it would be great for my confidence, elegance and discipline, but little did she know it would shape my entire life. Mum and dad say I never stopped dancing around the house from the moment I started. Even at 30, I find myself frolicking around my apartment with a few ballet moves after a few champagnes or a holiday. It’s an innate instinct that becomes imbedded in you I think. I feel so fortunate to have lived a life where my childhood passion came true. Dancers aren’t just bones moving from one beautiful pose to the next – dancers move because they need to; they want to bring music to life and create fleeting moments of art that only exist in that very moment. I practiced for hours on end; I would stretch in front of the television of a night and never stopped thinking about it as a child. You need to have that discipline and perseverance from a very young age in this profession and your have to mould and train that young body for a future in dance.
“No matter what rank you are or what roles you are doing, the same issues always seem to pop up; casting, communication, lack of belief in yourself.“
Where has it taken you?
Ballet has taken me all over the country and internationally. We are based in Melbourne and spend 4 months of the year in Sydney at the Opera House. We also tour to Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra. Internationally I have danced in New Zealand, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, London, Manchester, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.
What is the most testing aspect of your career?
The daily pressure – you can be your own worst nightmare at times. No matter what rank you are or what roles you are doing, the same issues always seem to pop up; casting, communication, lack of belief in yourself. You are being judged every single day and every single night. No matter what is going on in your life, there is a new audience out there expecting (and deserving) a brilliant show night after night. You constantly feel exhausted and like you aren’t doing enough, but what I’ve learnt is to take it all in your stride and enjoy the magical moments. You could get a sanding ovation one night and back of the corps the next. It’s a journey and it’s sensational, but it’s safe to say this industry has shown me my biggest highs and my biggest heartbreaks. When times are really tough I tap into that little girl inside if me who went to bed dreaming every night for this life. It’s fleeting but it happened and I loved it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring dancers?
Work harder than you think is possible, be humble and enjoy every single moment you ever have on stage. Be open to all advice, criticism and encouragement, but stay true to who you are. Surround yourself with a loving support network and never lose sight of life outside of the ‘ballet bubble’.
“You don’t meet a ballerina every day so I think that is my upside; a life that intrigues people.”
Where to from here?
I feel very fortunate to not be scared about life outside of dance and I have some really exciting opportunities in the pipeline. I am currently studying real estate and am interested in property development. Having said that, hanging up the pointe shoes is a huge decision and one you need to be sure about. I think I have a little longer left in me but I am getting older and I think it’s important to be really prepared for life after ballet. The ambition and drive in me will never disappear. The other thing I really look forward to eventually is being a wife and a mum. Ballet has always come first so it will be nice to put other things before my self and my career. Ballet will always be a part of my life in some shape or form, I’m sure, but I look forward to seeing what else I have to give off the stage.
What’s THE UPSIDE to being Brooke Lockett?
Oh gosh… probably my passion and ability to see the best in people and/or situations. I’m incredibly open and have really let go of what I thought my life should be like and putting my trust into the universe. Empathy is what my friends say people are drawn to in me, and I’m a doer. You don’t meet a ballerina every day so I think that is my upside; a life that intrigues people.