The Ballet Twins

George-Murray Nightingale - The Australian Ballet

May 31, 2019

Photos Credit: Kate Longly, The Australian Ballet “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Christopher Wheeldon.

George-Murray Nightingale began his training at the Hammond School in Chester, England before joining English National Ballet School in London, where he graduated. He now lives in Melbourne, Australia and is a dancer with The Australian Ballet.

Can you describe what kind of dancer you are?

I’d consider myself a versatile dancer and able to change my style of movement to fit the choreographer’s vocabulary. These days dancers are expected to adapt to different genres and styles. I would also say I'm a traditionalist, I love classical ballet. My heart lies with petite allegro and batterie as I love quick footwork, where I feel like I just bounce off the floor!

What has been one of your favourite experiences on stage so far?

There are so many! I enjoy every moment on stage, whether it's being featured in a role or not. However, a memorable highlight would be performing in Christopher Wheeldon's “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” with The Australian Ballet. I have been so fortunate to have performed three of the leading characters; The Dormouse, Fish and the famous Mad Hatter - created on Steven McRae, who is a huge idol of mine!

Photo Credit: Kate Longly, The Australian Ballet “Filigree and Shadow”  by Tim Harbour
Photo Credit: Kate Longly, The Australian Ballet “Filigree and Shadow”  by Tim Harbour
Is there a specific choreographer that inspires you, and what did you learn?

I have always loved the works of Matthew Bourne. His ballet Highland Fling, based on La Slyphide was one of the first ballets I saw which inspired me immensely. His choreography demands that the dancers invest themselves in storytelling. Working with him would certainly be a full circle within my career!

Do you have a favourite theatre to perform in?
That has to be the State Theatre in Melbourne, it’s our home theatre! Also, the Sydney Opera House. Walking along Sydney Harbour, seeing the most iconic theatre in the world is a goosebump moment every time!
Describe the difference between your experience rehearsing and performing?
I actually really enjoy rehearsing. The idea of working on something is really addictive to me - I’m such a perfectionist. I could keep going over every movement looking at every detail. However, being in a studio is totally different than dancing on stage during a performance. Lights, costume, spacing, props! It’s live theatre, anything can happen! I also have some relaxation techniques to help me stay calm - it's not good to overthink!
Photo Credit: Kate Longly, The Australian Ballet “Filigree and Shadow” by Tim Harbour
Photo Credit: Kate Longly, The Australian Ballet “Filigree and Shadow” by Tim Harbour 
Is being a professional ballet dancer anything like you imagined it to be?
It’s so rewarding being a professional ballet dancer. I feel so lucky to be working in an environment that I am totally in love with! I have worked extremely hard to get to this point in my career and I am just so thankful. The hardest moment of becoming a professional was making the transition from ballet school to becoming a professional dancer. As a student, you constantly have attention and help. In a ballet company, the daily class is there for you to work on technique but you're not likely to get much attention! Especially from at the beginning, it can be very difficult to get used to. At first, it was a very different way or working and I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but now I love it. As a professional, you are trusted and are free (in class) to try anything you want!
Do you have any tips for young aspiring dancers?
I would say to young aspiring dancers not to take criticism personally. If someone makes a comment, just take it as their opinion. If an audition doesn’t go the way you had hoped, it doesn’t matter! There will be many more chances to audition. I have personally had so many rejections from auditions. What's important is that you pick yourself up and move on and use that experience to better yourself. In the future, you will look back and be thankful for it.
Do you focus on a specific exercise alongside your daily training?
We have an amazing medical team at The Australian Ballet. I have my own Pilates program which is set for me personally - to work on my weaknesses. These exercises are designed specifically for ballets and the repertoire that we're working on or performing. If I am feeling a little sore from a performance or rehearsal, I love to swim. The cold water and resistance helps my body a lot with recovery. 
   Photo Credit: Daniel Bound, The Australian Ballet “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” performing the role of Fish by Christopher Wheeldon
Photo Credit: Daniel Bound, The Australian Ballet “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” performing the role of Fish by Christopher Wheeldon 
Do you get nervous before a show? 
I probably do over 200 performances a year so it depends what I am performing in that show. If it is a role I have done many times I usually just enjoy being on stage with my friends. However, if it’s a new role that's technically demanding and I know is going to be a push to get through, then I do get nervous, especially towards the end of the season when I'm tired. Also, if I know someone in the audience I can get stupidly nervous! 
How do you go about relaxing and taking time away from your active lifestyle? 
I spend as much time as I can with my boyfriend because during the performance season we hardly get time to spend together. He is also a dancer in the company, so I do see him around, but we are too busy focusing on what's required at work. We love movies so our downtime is going to the cinema, watching Netflix. Also, Melbourne’s culture is all about going out for breakfast, so I love going to a new cafe each weekend for breakfast and coffee! Being from the UK a lot of my free time I spend catching up with friends back in London/Manchester and FaceTiming the family!
How do you imagine life after dance?
I would like to travel the world for non-work-related purposes, there are so many places on my bucket list to explore! However, having said that, I also can't imagine straying from the dance world! I'd possibly like to become an Artistic Director of a vocational performing arts school, somewhere in the world!


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