The Ballet Twins

Tonia Looker - Queensland Ballet

January 04, 2017

Tonia Looker with Queensland Ballet

Tonia was born in Melbourne, Australia and started dancing at the age of three. she trained at The Australian Ballet School and graduated in 2008, joining the Royal New Zealand Ballet where she danced 10 years. Featured roles include Juliet in Christopher Hampson's Romeo & Juliet, Titania in Liam Scarlett's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Aurora in Greg Horsman's The Sleeping Beauty. In 2018 she moved back to Australia to join the Queensland Ballet.
How did you start dancing and why? 
I started dancing at the age of 3 because mainly because I couldn't keep still! My best friend at the time was also too shy to attend ballet class on her own so I went along with to say I have never looked back! 
What gets you out of bed in the mornings?  
Coffee...but in all seriousness it's the challenge of a new day and a new chance to continue mastering what I love. 
Most memorable moment of your career? 
I have a few memorable moments that will forever hold a special place in my heart. One was performing Juliet in Christopher Hampson's Romeo and Juliet on the RNZB Australia Tour in 2010. The story, the music, the challenge both mentally and physically is incredibly rewarding and humbling. Another was performing in Sisteron in the south of France. We performed in the open air in front of a castle on top of a mountain! Absolutely magical! 
Tonia Looker on stage performing with the Royal New Zealand Ballet
Photo by Bill Cooper
Who is your role model and why? 
My grandmother is my role model! She is now 98 and is still a constantly determined woman, always on the move! Her fiery personality combined with caring kindness is a rare combination to look up to.  
Do you have a specific way of warming up for a performance or to get focused for a main role? 
I always need to listen and sing along to music as I do my makeup and hair before a show. It forces me to breathe properly and puts me in a positive mind frame. Also I always pay attention to warming up my feet and hips before every show as I have found this the most beneficial. 
Which is your favourite theatre in the world to dance in? 
Our home theatre in Wellington NZ (the St.James theatre) is definitely up there amongst my favourites. A home town and home crowd are hard to beat. I also adore the state theatre in Melbourne! Such a spacious stage and the pattern printed on the rich, red front curtain is just gorgeous!  
How has ballet made you the person you are today? 
It's made me a very driven and passionate person who understands that hard work and attention to detail help you to achieve your goals.  
Do you have any hidden talents? 
Hidden talents hmmm...I used to do magic tricks like the true dork that I always am and occasionally they make a comeback. My triple chocolate chip cookies also seem to be a talent that are consumed within minutes at work and I have recently just mastered the skill of cart wheeling on pointe... 
Tonia Looker in a photoshoot with The Royal New Zealand Ballet
Photo by Ross Brown
What is your favourite ballet trick/step? 
I love jumping!!!! Entre chat six all the way!!! My record is 30 consecutively  
Any advice for young aspiring ballet dancers? 
It may sound corny but the truth is that if you can dream it, you can do it! What we think, we become so never let anyone tell you it's not possible.  
What's your escape from the ballet the world? 
I love to sing! Also I am obsessed with hiking and any sort of nature walks. It gives me a chance to zone out!  
What has been the hardest and most challenging role you have performed? 
The most challenging role I have performed was Aurora in Greg Horsman's 'Sleeping Beauty'. I lived, breathed and slept the role throughout the whole rehearsal and performance period. It's hard work, but it's the most rewarding of roles! It was something I only dreamt of doing so it was a massive honour and I sincerely hope it is something I have the opportunity to do again!


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