The dance of delight
IT might not have quite been her home town but taking to the stage at Sadlers Wells last month was very much a homecoming performance for ballet dancer Claire Robertson. Claire is the principal dancer with Scottish Ballet, but grew up in Letchworth GC an
IT might not have quite been her home town but taking to the stage at Sadlers' Wells last month was very much a homecoming performance for ballet dancer Claire Robertson.
Claire is the principal dancer with Scottish Ballet, but grew up in Letchworth GC and there was a strong contingent from Hertfordshire in the audience when she came to London.
She estimates that there were around 25 family and friends there to cheer her on on the first night and another 30 the following day.
For some of those present, it had been years since they had seen 30-year-old Claire dance.
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She said of the experience: "It was great because obviously when I am in Glasgow not all my family get to see the shows.
"It's lovely to have the support of people coming to see you."
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Claire lived with parents Sue and Colin and her two sisters in the family home in Bedford Road until she was 19.
Her ballet career began at the age of seven with local lessons, but soon she was dancing three times a week and aged 16 auditioned for various theatre schools, eventually choosing the London Studio Centre.
It was at graduation performance, on the very stage she graced again last month at Sadler's Wells, that she was spotted by Scottish Ballet and her professional dance career began.
"I was literally in Scotland a week later," Claire said.
"All my family used to get a bit worried about whether I'd be OK in the big city but I love it here now."
Since her big break, Claire's career has gone from strength to strength at Scottish Ballet.
She started off with smaller parts in the company, but became a soloist in 2003 and principal dancer in 2004.
Her career has seen her perform both in this country and abroad and tackle all kinds of roles in both classic and modern ballets, including Marie in The Nutcracker and Balanchine's The Four Temperaments.
One of the highlights of her career so far has been the title role in Cinderella, which the company brought to London last month.
The production, with sets and costumes inspired by the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Andy Warhol, was choreographed especially for her by Ashley Page, a former star of the Royal Ballet.
Claire said: "He basically choreographed the role on me. He tried things out with me.
"It makes the whole thing more exciting, not just watching a video or someone reading the steps out to you."
For Claire the chance to try out both modern and classic ballets is an important aspect of her job.
More traditional ballets with full length stories give dancers a chance to get into character, whereas modern works are more physically demanding on the dancers.
"Each one gives you something else. Some of the more modern ones have a different effect on you emotionally.
"I like to be able to do them both," Claire said.
The former garden city girl is now back in Glasgow, preparing for the company's spring triple bill of George Balanchine's Episodes, MiddleSexGorge by Stephen Petronio and William Forsythe's Suite From Artifact.
Claire said she visits her family back in North Herts as often as she can, but the good news for them is she may be drawn back to the area in the future.
Although she is more than happy with her flourishing career at the moment, she has not ruled out taking up teaching in the future, maybe even in the Letchworth GC area.
She said: "I do miss being near my family. I do like Letchworth, it's a nice town, it's quite the opposite of Glasgow, it's nice and quiet.