Australian Ballet followers would remember this name as the Dux of her Graduating Year at the Australian Ballet School and the dancer whom impressed Australian audiences during her time at the Melbourne-based ballet company. Williams has become quite the globe trotter and has already added some stellar repertoire to her resume as well as had the pleasure of dancing for world renown choreographers Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky. Williams has danced with The Australian Ballet and Het National Ballet. She has since commenced her season with the American Ballet Theatre - where the ballet stars come to shine. 2012 shall prove to be a very exciting year for this young dancer.
I had the chance to quiz Stephanie on her life in the ballet world and her new adventure living in the city with all the bright lights - New York.
What was it like on your first day at ABT?
My first day at ABT was pretty surreal. I have to admit that I pinch myself most days... being fortunate enough to dance with such a wonderful company, surrounded by inspiring artists and beautiful people everyday. There was so much to take in, so my first day is a little bit of a blur but I do remember being happy and although I was out of my comfort zone and nervous, I had a great feeling that I was exactly where I was meant to be and that was incredibly special.
How does the structure of the day differ at ABT compared to The Australian Ballet?
The schedule at ABT is similar but different to The Australian Ballet. To begin with company class is not compulsory, where as in The Australian Ballet we had to do a minimum of 4 classes a week. So essentially our day starts at 12 as that is when rehearsals begin, but as dancers we are all very aware individually of our bodies need for class so there are always two classes on offer every morning lasting an hour and a half. Then we start rehearsing from 12 and finishing at 7. At ABT we are usually learning and rehearsing 4 or 5 or 6 different ballets at the one time so rehearsals are very efficient and move quickly so you have to be on the ball! At the Australian Ballet we would rehearse until 6.30 and the rehearsals were generally larger chunks of time compared to ABT where its almost a different ballet or different role every hour!
You hear about "normal people" dreading the removalist day when they have to pack up their lives in big boxes and move to another house within 100km radius - what is it like moving internationally?
Moving internationally does seem incredibly daunting as it is a huge life change, but I have done it very gradually and I have learnt that I'm usually best when I am out of my comfort zone! I have been living out of one suitcase for almost a year, which sounds crazy and hard but I have managed and have enjoyed picking up items along the way. Now that I feel settled in my apartment in New York, I am getting some more of my stuff sent from Australia which is good.
I was very lucky to have my parents meet me in New York the first week I got here and spend ten days with me. They were incredible helping me find my apartment and setting everything up. It takes a lot to become a 'real' person in the US!! It was so wonderful to be with them after spending 6 months in Amsterdam and their support and belief in me has never wavered, so it was very special to start this new journey in a new country with them by my side!
What is it like working with the great Alexei Ratmansky?
What can I say about working with Alexei Ratmansky, apart from that it is incredible. Working with him on his new Firebird which had its world premiere in costa mesa on the 29th of March was a really special experience for me. He is a wonderful, kind man who has this ability to give so much and in turn, draw so much from us as dancers and as artists. The dancers and staff have such respect for him and that is a testament to him as a human being.
Dancing as a part of Firebird was extraordinary. Every dancer on stage was so committed and believed so strongly in the story and this gave me goosebumps. A very special experience which is generated from the astounding artist and human being that is Alexei Ratmansky.
Is there very much difference in repertoire between the Het National Ballet, ABT and the Australian Ballet?
American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet and Het Nationale Ballet are all large companies with respect around the world so the repertoire they offer is brilliant. Both The Australian Ballet and Het Nationale ballet have strong ties with the choreographers from their country so their seasons are generally inclusive of works to celebrate the heritage and future of dance in their country. ABT has a broad and vast repertoire which includes a lot of the big classics that as a young girl I always dreamt about dancing, of which are included in the rep for every year. All three companies I feel are on beautiful, yet unique journeys that pays homage to the past whilst moving forward with the future in their own way and that is a wonderful thing!
During your days off, what do you like to do to recuperate?
I'm a bit strange and tend to want to do more when I have time off. I love going running and being outdoors, sometimes just wandering around NY cafe hopping and people watching, as well as reading and listening to music. I don't watch much tv and usually just have music on at home. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is put some tunes on! Another of my favourite things to do is going out for dinner... good food, good wine, great company and intriguing conversation always makes me happy!
Favourite part about living in New York?
New York City is known as the city that never sleeps. I am a terrible sleeper so it works perfectly for me! There is always something happening... never a dull moment and it fills me with a feeling that anything is possible! And that is exciting! I have found so much to be inspired by and being able to get up every morning to go and dance with amazing people everyday has put me in a very happy place!