Nicky McGinty, professional dancer and choreographer, is the pinnacle of Ballet Yoga, set to be presented at the OM Yoga Show and MBS Experience in Manchester from 10-11 May. In a unique fusion of Contemporary Ballet and Vinyasa yoga, the techniques are combined to create enormous strength, flexibility, fat burning, co-ordination and great posture.
When did you begin dancing, where and why?
I began attending ballet classes aged 6 in Woking, Surrey. Why? Because my two older sisters went and I suppose my mum hoped I might enjoy it – little did she know what she started!
What were your early years of dancing like?
The years were strict at ballet school, and so much fun at the local theatre group, school and in my own garden dancing and prancing about. I was lucky to have some amazing teachers, and some harsh ones, that have taught me how and how not to teach! We performed many shows, musicals and pantomimes. I remember always getting lost in movement when I was young, always creating my own steps and dancing in the garden and bedroom mirror.
How long have you been performing and choreographing? Did you start young?
I have been performing since a young age – say 12 – but choreographing and performing professionally since the age of 21, so 19 years now.
Where did you train?
I did some very unconventional training but regardless it was very disciplined and demanding physically, emotionally and mentally – we were challenged, as is the nature of dance I think, up early and home late. No social life as we were too busy and often rather isolated on location or rehearsal studios!
I did a BA Hons Dance degree, and a Diploma in Circus Skills and Physical Theatre. I was lucky to get an Observership Award to shadow the wonderfully talented choreographer of feature films and theatre, Fran Janes, and I then did a PGCE in Dance. I trained as a Yoga Teacher in India and did my Pregnancy Yoga training about 2 years ago.
What is a typical day like now?
It is very different in some ways as I have a 1 year old son now. But similar in that I am up early and home late as I go to teach when he goes to bed. So a typical day is long, creative and incredibly physical as he is a very busy boy!
Do you still take classes?
I love to go to a contemporary, jazz or ballet class when I get the time, and I often take a yoga class at London’s Jivamukti Centre.
How do you keep on top of your technique?
I am lucky in that my yoga and ballet teaching now acts as a constant reminder of good technique to me. It’s a lifestyle I aspire to.
Do you prefer choreographing to performing?
Great question – I think when I was younger I loved the stage – performing was and is magical! But, I was a nervous performer so choreographing was always safer and where I could often express myself fully.
What would you say was your greatest achievement to date?
That’s a hard one for me because it was often the smaller jobs that were the more enjoyable, but its often the bigger jobs that I learnt most from and often the ones most respected by others.
I think dancing on a few feature films – ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in particular was a great achievement. Also, dancing and co-choreographing in a world record was pretty awesome. It was the biggest amount of different dance styles and performers – (800) all in one simultaneously choreographed piece for Big Dance and BBC1 in Trafalgar Square in preparation for the Olympics. That was a huge accomplishment!
Which part of dance do you enjoy most?
I was always a big fan of the creative process: those amazing improvisations where some incredible movement would surface! I love site-specific work that juxtaposed its natural setting; like ballet dancing throughout Selfridges for Christmas! I also love the moment when I can see the rehearsal process and hard graft come together, often in conjunction with the costume and staging departments. That’s often an exciting and very gratifying feeling.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be part of the dance industry?
Think BIG – go for it – live your dreams! Try not to narrow your vision by saying ‘I can’t’ or ‘I don’t want to do that’, those are often the best jobs! Never let auditions take away your self worth! Be bigger than your biggest critic, eat well and look after yourself.
What’s next for you?
I’m working towards teaching retreats abroad and I’m about to release my third DVD in a box set trilogy: Ballet Fitness, Ballet Yoga and Beginners’ Yoga.