Name: Katherine Skelton

Age: 29

Job: Ballet dancer

City/town: Wellington

What does your job entail? We start each day at 8.30am with a warm up, then a 9.30am class to perfect technique and continue to improve our artistry. Then we rehearse pretty much all day.

Rehearsals are for learning steps or having a choreographer create the work on you and your talents. During a rehearsal period you may be the centre of attention and in the spotlight, and other times you may be part of an ensemble, or group dance, and once in a while you will be at the back learning a role that you may dance in the future. At the end of the day a warm down is necessary, including stretching and rolling out your muscles. We are always sewing pointe shoes: female dancers can use anywhere from five to seven pairs of pointe shoes in one week.

How long have you been doing it? I have been dancing for 24 years; it’s my ninth year as a professional ballet dancer.

What attracted you to this line of work? My cousin was doing well at ballet competitions and I wanted to be just like her!

What training was involved? As youngsters, we would attend a class or two a week; later this turned into every day. Ballet became the main priority from my early teens. I attended a full-day programme at the New Zealand School of Dance for three years then began my professional career with the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

What do you love most about your job? My constant growth as a dancer. We are always furthering our understanding and technique. This makes the job exciting and rewarding.

 And what are the worst bits? Injuries. You might be dancing a role you enjoy or have worked hard for and then you suddenly can’t perform the role because of an injury. Injuries can really set you back and be quite frustrating, but they are part of being an athlete!

What motivates you in your work? Applying corrections which will further my technique helps motivate me. On stage, an appreciative audience can motivate us!

What are your career goals? To reach my potential, so when I retire, I know I accomplished something and did my best.

Do you have any key mentors or people who have influenced you? We are influenced by each other daily. The international nature of the industry means whatever company you’re a part of, anywhere in the world, you will be among many different dancers from many different countries from many different styles of training, so each of our individual styles of dancing can evolve at any given time. Marianela Nunez and Alina Cojocaru are inspiring to watch on the internet!

Where did you grow up and what was it like? I grew up in Tauranga and went to Otumoetai College. I had a great childhood and enjoy visiting.

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