Dance partners off and onstage

Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers Katherine Minor and her husband Fabio Lo Giudice dance in Petite Mort. Photo: Stephen A'Court
Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers Katherine Minor and her husband Fabio Lo Giudice dance in Petite Mort. Photo: Stephen A'Court
From classical to contemporary, Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Katherine Minor does not miss a beat when changing styles in the company’s latest production Dancing with Mozart. She tells Rebecca Fox about switching styles and working with her husband.

Dancing with her husband for the first time on stage has been an experience for Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Katherine Minor.

''It's been a real journey,'' she says.

The couple are paired up in Petite Mort by Jiri Kylian, a dance where aggression, sexuality, energy, silence, cultivated senselessness, and vulnerability all play a part.

''The chemistry between you and your partner has to be quite profound in a way so that ideally you are not really thinking about the steps, but more about the feeling.''

Such closeness on the dance floor meant it has been hard for Minor and husband Fabio Lo Giudice to leave work behind at the studio.

''The communication between us has always been good but now we're in a different realm, we're talking about something we have to do at work rather than financially or housework.''

It is a collaborative effort, something they both feel passionate about.

''Our different perspectives about our approaches have come to light as well.

''It's been really good.''

Working with her husband did have its negatives, however, such as it being easier to put the blame on them if things do not go right.

''You tend to have less patience with the other as you are so comfortable with them. If they were unfamiliar you'd somehow hold back and let things slide.''

Despite this the couple are really enjoying working together.

''It's about keeping each other calm throughout the whole thing and we can feed off of that.''

They had a lot in common outside of work, so have been able to put it aside when needed.

While dealing with this new experience, Minor has also been learning the steps and movements of George Balanchine's Divertimento No 15.

The Kylian work is very contemporary while the Balanchine work is the opposite - very classical.

''For me they are drastically different in style. I tend to compartmentalise them in my head.''

The precise movements of the Balanchine work require her to stay focused on the technique, a certain kind of musicality and pointing her feet.

''It's a different dynamic overall. There is more to worry about. It's so pristine. There is a certain shape and look you are going for, whereas the other is more contemporary, so the interpretation of technique is broader.''

Learning the steps has been difficult, but once conquered they became easier to remember and more natural.

Balanchine is renowned for his ''kaleidoscope patterns'' on stage between the corps and principals.

''It's really beautiful. You feel as though you are part of a moving shape.''

As a longstanding fan of Balanchine's work, Minor said having the choreographer's stager Francia Russell come to New Zealand to teach the work had been ''really amazing''.

''It's felt very surreal at this point in my career to work with her.''

The piece also required a lot of pointe work, which was hard on dancers' feet - the intricacy of the work made their calves really tired, and calf cramping happened regularly.

''Your feet do get sore from being in pointe shoes all day. The joy of dancing his pieces on stage prevails over the pain.''

It is also a direct comparison to the Kylian work where she dances in bare feet.

She is thankful the Balanchine work is performed prior to the Kylian one.

''It's a lot easier to go from pointe shoes to bare feet. It's hard to imagine getting them back into the boots.''

With Petit Mort she is standing in the back while the men are dancing with swords.

''It is quite intense.''

Minor, who is from Oregon in the United States, came to New Zealand with her husband four years ago.

''We've tried to explore it a lot. We are really happy here.''

When they moved here they were not sure how long they would stay given the distance from their families.

''We love it. We feel so fortunate to live here. It is a safe haven from the rest of the world. It's hard to imagine leaving.''

The only down side was spending Christmas apart as she travelled to the United States and her husband to Sicily, Italy.

Add a Comment