Ainhoa Segrera is an internationally-acclaimed ballet dancer who recently joined Ballet Ireland. Currently rehearsing for the company's newest performance, Bold Moves, which premieres this week, here Ainhoa tells us more about her career journey to date and why sometimes failure is the only way to learn.
Did you always want to be a dancer?
It wasn’t until I was 14 that I realised I wanted to be a ballerina. I was always a very sporty child and I used to do a lot of different activities besides ballet classes. Tennis, for example, used to be one of my favourites. It’s safe to say that ballet wasn’t my immediate favourite. It was a slow, intense burn, but once it got going, I quickly realised that professional dancing was something I really wanted to pursue.
In college, I studied… at 18 years old, I graduated from my academic studies in school, as well as my dance training in Valencia. However, I’ve always really enjoyed studying, so I decided not to leave it aside and started studying for a degree in business management at an online university. Of course, I can’t do it full-time as I’m working all day in the studios or on stage, but currently, I’m in my 4th year and very excited to learn more and more every day!
My first job was… as part of the Corps de Ballet in Ballet du Capitole Company, in Toulouse, France.
The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was… that, alongside physical technique, it’s also incredibly important to train a strong mind. Belief in yourself and learning to acknowledge your own self-value are sometimes difficult things to nurture in a critical environment. However, I do count myself lucky that I was exposed to this way of thinking from an early age and have always tried to stay strong within my mind both in the studio, and in my personal life too.
A common misconception about dance is… that people often think that it’s a mean environment where dancers may sabotage each other – like the age-old tale of one ballerina putting a glass in the other’s pointe shoes… The reality is it can actually be a very friendly and supportive environment, where people often admire each other’s individual skills.
My main responsibility at work is… to be continuously on top of my game, performing to the best of my abilities both in the studio and on stage. That, and remaining consistent is essential to my job, regardless of any pressure I may find myself under.
The first thing I do every morning is… make coffee! I love having time for myself in the morning, enjoying my coffee, and making a nice breakfast that will fuel me for a morning full of dancing.
My morning routine starts at… 7:30am and includes time to get ready, do my skincare routine (which I enjoy a lot), do my makeup, have a good breakfast, and of course, a big cup of coffee. Then upbeat music and off to work!
I can’t go to work without… listening to my favourite playlist. It’s definitely an essential part of my morning routine and probably my favourite part of it! A morning walk, my headphones, and my favourite upbeat songs to start the day with good energy.
I travel to work by… either by public transport or on foot. Some days, especially when the weather is good, a long morning walk feels great for the body before starting a day full of rehearsals.
On an average workday, I… dance for 8 hours.
I start my working day at… 10am, but I like to get into the studio earlier so I can properly warm up my body. The day always starts with a ballet class that lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes, then we get a 15-minute break, and the next item on the schedule is our first rehearsal of the day, until lunch break at 1:30 pm or 2pm.
The first thing I do at work is… go to my locker and find my outfit for ballet class and pick which pair of pointe shoes best suits the day’s rehearsals. Depending on the choreography, I might need harder or softer pointe shoes. After getting changed, I head into the studio, catch up with my colleagues, and warm up for the class.
I spend the first portion of the day… dancing, starting with ballet class and then going straight into rehearsals for my upcoming show, Ainhoa Segrera is an internationally-acclaimed ballet dancer who recently joined Ballet Ireland. Currently rehearsing for the company’s newest performance, Bold Moves, which premieres this week, here Ainhoa tells us more about her career journey to date and why sometimes failure is the only way to learn. Bold Moves.
I break for lunch at… 1:30 pm and usually have an hour break, during which I have time to eat, grab a coffee, rest my body a bit, and of course, chat and laugh with my colleagues.
I rarely get through my working day without… sharing some laughs with my colleagues. I find it super important to find joy during the day, not only for myself but also for the people around me, considering we work in a very intense environment, and it’s always nice to be able to laugh and have fun in our free time.
The most challenging part of my day is… I wouldn’t necessarily say that my daily challenges are consistently the same. In fact, one of the main things I love about my job is that every day is different, and therefore, I may have to overcome different challenges at any given moment. I would say one of the most challenging things is having to step into a role last minute, with the tension and pressure of never having done it before!
I know it’s been a good day when… I feel I’ve made real progress and improved upon things that I’ve been slowly working on. It’s the little things like this where I find the constant motivation and excitement that make me want to go back into the studio the next day and continue working.
I usually end my day at… 6pm. Sometimes my body is very tired after an intense day, and I just go home and rest, but other days I stay longer working on some steps or even just chilling with other dancers in the studio.
I switch off from work by… hanging out with friends, reading, calling my family and friends who live in other countries, cooking, watching a TV show, among other things.
Before I go to bed, I… always have a cup of tea and a cookie.
I prepare for tomorrow by… getting a good rest at night and recovering my body.
After a long workweek, I destress by… either having the laziest Sunday ever or going out with friends on Saturday night and… you guessed it, more dancing!
The accomplishment I’m most proud of is… in general, the process I’ve made through my professional career, which only started a few years ago. Overcoming new challenges, living through new experiences, and letting myself grow as a dancer and as a person. I feel proud of being brave enough to take risks to do things that challenge me, even when I’m scared of them. It’s something that I’m still working on, and the process feels very satisfying. However daunting things might feel sometimes, I find I can just step back and appreciate them for what they are, and that helps me to enjoy them more and get more out of them.
If you want to get into my line of work, my advice is to… be consistent every day, be open to learning new things every day, and accept that failure is also part of the process. And if you fall, you must stand up again. Sometimes you have to fail to learn what’s wrong so you can correct it, and that means not taking negative feedback personally but instead accepting it and learning from it.
I’ve just finished working on… Nutcracker Sweeties, choreographed by Morgann Runacle-Temple, which was part of the previous season of Ballet Ireland. At the moment, we’re working on Bold Moves’ 2023 Spring Programme. I’m enjoying the creative process of this triple bill, which includes Minus 16 by Ohad Naharin, Happy Little Things by Aszure Barton, and All that Remains by Filipe Portugal. I think it’s going to be a great show, and I can’t wait for the premiere on April 14th!