There are many Romanian ballet dancers who dance on stages abroad, and this is why Romania seems to be a country that “exports” dancers. However, there are not so many people who know that many foreign dancers perform on the Romanian stages. Artists for whom Romania is a very good school for their professional perfection, but also offers them a very pleasant place to live and work. This is also the case of Oscar Ward, soloist in the ballet of the Bucharest National Opera.
Celebrating the International Dance Day 2021 together with the International Theater Institute, Ballet Magazine Romania opens the series of interviews “Ballet dancer in Romania” by Bogdan Chenciu, and in the first episode you can find Oscar Ward, an young British ballet dancer.
Born in Nottingham, United Kingdom in 1998, Oscar Ward started to dance at three years old locally before joining the Royal Ballet School’s senior associate programme at 14. He then started training privately in Scotland at 16 years old and upon graduation, joined the Bucharest National Opera at 19. After two seasons, he was promoted to soloist and has performed roles such as the Prince in the Nutcracker, Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty, and the Golden Idol in La Bayadera.
“Ballet dancer in Romania”! Romania as a very good school for the ballet dancers professional perfection
What was the reason why you have chosen Romania as a country to live in?
When I was 18 years old and in my graduate year at ballet school, I was auditioning around Europe for a few different dance companies. I really had a good feeling when I came to audition in Bucharest. I liked the theatre, the environment and the evolutionising atmosphere of the city. So when I found out I was hired here, I immediately had an instinct that this is where I wanted to be.
How do you feel in Romania? Do you feel that you are at home here?
Of course whenI first arrived here, it was not the easiest process since there are a lot of cultural and social differences between Romania and the UK. It was also the first time I had to ’grow up’, being out of my comfort zone in a new country.But it didn’t take me long to settle and feel comfortable eventually. Ienjoyedthe process of getting to know the country more and more, finding new places toexplore and more things to do. I always liked travelling to different places anyway, so for me it felt more natural as time went on. Now I consider Romania as my home and I am accustomed to it.
What do you think that the Romanian ballet performance level is?
The performance level in Romania is extremely high. I am very lucky to be surrounded everyday by many talented dancers, all of whom push me to be the best dancer I can be. I have enjoyed being introduced to the style of dance here, which contrastsfrom the mainly English school I was brought up with. It has opened my eyes to other ideologies and thus aided my dancing. The repertoire and shows here are exciting and I am always enthused by watching my colleagues dance and hearing back from the Romanian audience.
What are your plans about living in Romania? How long do you think that you will stay here?
Well I plan to stay in Romania for as long as I can! It’s a very beneficial place for me to keep improving my career. I also love watching the way the country is developping, especially in Bucharest. Any new restaurant or coffee place makes me very excited! The idea of buying a place here is also interesting me more and more, so we shall see!
“Ballet dancer in Romania”! Romania as a very pleasant place to live and work
What is your opinion about the evolution of the ballet in time?
Of course now the standards of ballet are a lot greater than they were in the past. Technique has changed and the expectancies are higher – not just our extensions. But I find that many of us nowadays have lost the idea of dancing. First and foremost we are artists, not robots. You can have many attributes, like good en dehors and the ability to do many pirouettes, but if you cannot be an artist then you have missed the point of being a dancer. So whilst we must always try to strive for technical excellence, I believe more importantly we should always challenge ourselves to be better artists.
Tell me, how does one of your life day looks like?
In a normal world (without a pandemic), I will wake up and have my morning espresso – it is essential! I will read the news, check my schedule for that day and get ready. I will get to the Opera earlier to warm-up and then company class starts at 10:00, which then ends at 11:15. If we don’t have a performance that day, we will rehearse until 14:00, have one hour for lunch, and then rehearse more from 15:00 until 17:00. If my day has less rehearsals, I have more time to factor in floor barre and go to the gym.
If we have a show that night, we will finish rehearsing at around 14:00. This then gives us time to do our makeup; eat and warm up our muscles before the show, which would usually start at 18:30. Then we will finish late, depending on how long the performance is.
On Mondays we have the day free and I always enjoy getting out the house. I am someone who can’t stay inside the house for too long, I find the outdoors refreshing! I really like walking or cycling around Parcul Regele Mihai I, searching for new places and going out for food with friends.
Who is the mentor who discovered you and which is the most important ballet company you have been working for for before being hired by The National Opera House of Bucharest?
I would not say I was discovered in particular. I was always moving as a child so my mum put me in dancing to calm me down and channel my energy. I was pushed to go for many different courses by my local teachers Helen Taylor and Michelle Widdison. One of these courses included taking classes at the Royal Ballet School. When I was there we had many guest teachers, but our main teacher, Richard Ramsey, was a big inspiration for me. He had a real poise and stature and it was the first time I was introduced to the idea of dancing with maturity and masculinity.
But the teacher I owe most to is Daniel F. Job. I trained with him for three years in Scotland and he has been one of my most influential mentors so far. He was very methodical and detailed and everything he said made perfect sense to me. Learning from him was a reeducation and I still carry the advice he gave me back then to this very day. I will always be grateful to him.
Since being in Bucharest, I have been fortunate to have had a lot of supportive coaches such as Cristian Crăciun, Gabriel Opincaru, Gigel Ungureanu and Corina Dumitrescu.Apart from other projects and galas, the Bucharest National Opera has been my first major job.