At Omika, we seek to inspire others – it’s one of our most important values. Today, we spend a moment, in awe, with Rebekah Petty, principal dancer with the Victorian State Ballet.
Rebekah, tell us a bit about you.
My name is Rebekah Petty, I’m 27, married and living in Melbourne, Victoria. I grew up in a family of five: mum, dad, my brother Seth and sister Holly. My family has now extended to a brother who has married and four nephews with a niece on the way! My husband is one of six siblings – a very large, beautiful family. I’ve been married for three years in December and am currently the resident principal ballerina of the Victorian State Ballet.
Bek tell us about your role with the Victorian State Ballet.
My role at the Victorian State Ballet (VSB) is as the current female principal dancer. Making principal is the highest ranking you can make as a ballerina so I am very honoured to hold this title currently. Being principal means I am given some very challenging roles and have a lead position within the company. We are like one big family at VSB so rankings play no part on who’s in your immediate circle of friends, we are all very open and loving toward each other!
What do you do in a typical day?
A typical day for me differs day to day, but generally I get up around 7.30am and have breakfast with my husband. Warm up class commences at VSB at 9.30am so I like to be there a little earlier to stretch and prepare for the day. Training class usually finishes around 11-11.30am and from there on we commence rehearsals for whatever production we have coming up (at the moment it’s Swan Lake which is an all-time favourite of mine!) The rehearsals can conclude anytime between 1.30-4pm depending on which role you are dancing. I am usually at the studio ‘til around four, as I have a big workload in most ballets!
After I finish I teach ballet to younger students a few afternoons a week which can take me until about 7pm. I then come home and if I have a few hours to spare I spend time with my husband and extended family! I also try to fit in some extra pilates, stretching and ice therapy to help recover from the day. I always try to eat as nutritionally as possible through the week to give my body the best fuel I can. I take magnesium supplements nightly and try to be in bed by 10-10.30pm!
You have been dancing since you were four. How did you become a professional ballerina?
I danced through all of school in the afternoons and was fortunate enough to train under some of the best coaches in the world, who always pushed me and believed in my potential as a really young student. Through all the years of hard work, I never gave up on the dream to become a professional.
I couldn’t have done it without the continual support from family and close friends. After high school finished I studied at WAAPA in Perth and from there, I accepted a young artist position at The West Australian Ballet immediately after my schooling concluded. I have since danced for Ballet West UTAH, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo MONACO, Melbourne Ballet Company and the Victorian State Ballet (formerly Melbourne Dance Theatre).
Moving across the country to study must have had its challenges – what did you do to stay grounded and focused on your work and study?
I had a wonderful family and support network whilst I studied interstate. I won’t say it didn’t have its tough times but I kept my end goal in mind constantly and was lucky enough to be surrounded by like-minded people.
It must take incredible determination and persistence to become a professional ballerina. Can you tell us about a time you faced a challenge and how you overcame it?
It absolutely does! It looks like a pretty glamourous job but in all honesty, it is hard, hard work! I have had many occasions where I’ve felt overly burdened with challenges and each time I have tried to face it with as much positivity as possible. I’ve had many a fall or forgetful moment on stage and you just do what you can to keep moving forward and don’t be afraid to laugh about it after! It is live theatre after all!
Do you have a moment or person that has played a significant part in defining who you are or how you approach life?
If I were to choose one, I would have to say my husband. He is just the most positive human you will ever meet. When I get bogged down in criticism or self-doubt, he says I am such a “dancer”. His encouragement has truly helped me be where I am. Since meeting him, I feel I have changed my attitude to trials and am able to bounce back quicker than I would have ever done alone. He is my number one fan, he comes to every season of performances, always massages my feet and always gets me flowers. In some performances where I am tired or overly nervous, I remember he’s in the audience and it calms me, so I can perform to the best of my ability. I wouldn’t have been promoted to principal if it weren’t for his constant support.
What are your aspirations, your plans for the next few years?
I would have to say, maintain the happy position I am in currently. To be a professional ballerina you can never stop working. I hope to dance many more roles and when my husband and I are ready we would love a family of our own.
Can you share with us your advice for girls and teens who are training to become a dancer?
Never ever give up. Everyone who has ever achieved anything once had someone who told them no. Find your why, find what you love and hold onto it. Never underappreciate your family and friends who support you and ignore those who don’t. Your future is your choice. You really can do anything you want, as long as you’re willing to brave the hard times, you will be so rewarded and it’ll all be worth it in the end!
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