Interview with Cristiano Martino and Jade Wood: two of the nominees for the annual Telstra Ballet Dancer Award

This article brought to you by Telstra

On March 7 this year, six talented young performers were nominated for the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award, a prestigious prize aimed at cultivating emerging talent within Australian ballet circles. At the close of 2014, an industry panel of judges will decide the winner of the award, accompanied by a $20,000 prize. A second prize is given to the People’s Choice with $5,000.[vote for your favourite dancer here]

We interviewed all six of the nominees to better understand the nature of Australian Ballet, and what it means to be put forward for this award by peers. In this post we talk to Cristiano Martino and Jade Wood.

Cristiano is the only male nominee this year and joined The Australian Ballet in 2013. He hails from Adelaide and is a keen fan of baking and breakfast.

Which is it that attracts you more, the incredible physical aspect of ballet or the freedom of expression?
I appreciate both those aspects of ballet equally. I love it for its relentless physicality, there’s nothing better than leaving the studio or the theatre feeling content that you’ve given it your all on stage or in the studio. However, with that being said, the performance/expression side of ballet is what makes it an art and not just another sport.

You’ve mentioned before that you are a keen baker, how does this marry up with your health and diet regimes?
I don’t really have a health and diet regime as such, we put our body through a lot so obviously we want to fuel it properly and I do. I just happen to have a real sweet tooth and I find baking quite therapeutic, so whenever I can I’ll make a cake or some cookies and leave them in the dancer’s common room. There’s nothing like a bit of sugary motivation to make it through a long day of rehearsals!

You’re the only man in this year’s nominations for the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award. If there was another male dancer in the running, which of your peers do you think it might have been?
It’s a real honour just to be nominated for TBDA as everyone in the company is exceptionally talented and they wouldn’t be a part of it if they weren’t. I think everyone is deserving of a nomination at some point in their career and there’s a lot of male and female talent coming up through the ranks of the company. To warrant a nomination you have to have been with the company for at least a year and you can’t have been nominated the year before.

With a long career ahead of you, where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years’ time I hope to still be a part of this wonderful company, happy, healthy/injury free & growing as an artist and a performer!

Jade comes from a ballet family, her mum owned a ballet school for 25 years, The Jiliane Reynolds School of Dance in Cairns. She spent a year living in Portugal before being accepted in The Australian Ballet School at age 10. She has a keen interest in forensics and a soft spot for rap music.

We’re sure you’ll agree that ballet is a completely subjective art form, what can you tell us about your unique style?
I guess everyone, to an extent, has a similar classical style via the classical ballet technique, however it is each individual’s expression and interpretation which makes each dancer unique. I think that because I’m a young dancer, I’m still exploring and learning my own unique style, and I like dancing both slow and fast and really moving through space. Most of all I love being up there on the stage and being challenged.

You’ve said that you have an interest in science and would most likely be a scientist if not in ballet, are there any overlaps between the two disciplines for you?
I was always really keen on science in school and loved learning about real life things. I think that using the intellectual side of the brain is something very different from the artistic and aesthetic side of ballet, and I find studying science and being creative on stage really complement each other.

Having spent a year living in Portugal and travelling abroad to perform, can you see yourself moving to another country permanently?
I’m not sure really, I like this company and living in Australia being close to family. I love traveling and seeing other parts of the world but there’s also no place like home.

What is your ambition as a ballet dancer?
I want to become a principal dancer and dance all the traditional classical and contemporary roles. I want to be able to tell a story through my movement and I want to be able to move and inspire people. I want to be able to let the audience in on our world and let them escape the everyday life!

Get more information and vote for your favourite dancer here!