20 Questions with Hannah Galway
July 9, 2020

1. What are the top three activities you have been doing during social distancing?

During this time off, I’ve been able to go back home to B.C. and have gotten into running. There is nobody outside and it’s a great way for me to get fresh air and do my cardio all at once. I’ve also been enjoying painting rocks and playing card games with my family.

2. What would you have done as a career if ballet hadn't come your way?

If I hadn’t been a ballet dancer, I think I would’ve done something in the arts. I find art history, specifically paintings, incredibly fascinating.

3. Have you ever had an embarrassing moment performance-wise?

Once, during a performance of Yondering, when I was still a student at Canada’s National Ballet School, I got a massive nosebleed onstage. I was in a white costume and had no time to go offstage. I was mortified but I wasn’t hurt so I just kept dancing.

4. What is your work philosophy?

I’d be lying if I said I had that figured out. I’m still learning what works for me physically, mentally and emotionally. That being said, I practice approaching every day eager to work and by applying myself. Because even if all else fails, I think a focused work ethic can accomplish a lot.

5. How do you handle criticism?

I am very appreciative of constructive criticism. When it comes from a coach or a dancer you admire, it can be extremely humbling to know that they care enough to share their knowledge. Constructive criticism is vital to help oneself grow.
6. Do you have any habits or superstitions before you perform?

As a fairly anxious person, I think any sort of superstition or ritual could be dangerous for me. I like to be consistent in how I warm up physically and mentally, however I try not to be too rigid because if someday I can’t prepare exactly how I want, I don’t want that to somehow be the reason a show doesn’t go well. I try to avoid any thoughts like that.

7. What's your definition of a successful ballet dancer?

I believe a successful ballet dancer is someone who remains humble while being a fierce artist. They’ve recognized a way to stay human, regardless of the level of their talent or technique, and as a result I think it makes their dancing that much more enjoyable to watch.
8. What’s the best thing about being a dancer and what’s the worst?

The best part about being a dancer is how it has shaped me personally. I’ve been exposed to so many things through dance that have allowed me to grow in ways I never knew or thought I could. However, it is also the hardest part about being a dancer because I have a hard time separating myself from dance. So much of my identity comes from dancing, I am so close to it that it can be hard to have an honest perspective on things. Not having a good rehearsal can feel like the end of the world. I have to work on finding a balance and to recognize that it was just one bad rehearsal, it does not reflect on my entire body of work or the deepest part of me as a person.

9. Do you have a guilty pleasure song?

I can’t pick one song, mostly because my taste in music changes just about every week. Most recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Michael Bublé and Leonard Cohen in his early years.

10. What are three random things most people don't know about you?
  • If I’m going to have water, it has to be tea.
  • I’m trying to take a break from my phone so I’ve been writing letters to my friends in order to stay in touch.
  • I have the unpopular opinion that Adam Sandler is a comedic genius. 
11. What was the last thing you changed your mind about?

Getting dressed into real clothes. I’ve completed many things today and they have all been done in fleece pajamas!

12. What cheers you up on an off day?

Meditation has really helped me work on and accept more of my unhappy thoughts and feelings and it gives me the grace to move on from them. I also enjoy goofing around with my roommate Alexi [Skinner], who is a Corps de Ballet member with the company.

13. Do you have any bad habits that you're working on breaking?

I have a hard time seeing value in doing, let alone completing, things that are just for me. I have a nasty habit of not working on myself when I need it the most because it feels selfish. I’m trying to break that habit by realizing the energy and time I give to myself affects the energy I give out to others. To be aware that it’s not a waste of time to be kind to yourself because in turn, it makes you kinder to others.

Joe Chapman. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
14. What is your favorite memory of being onstage?

I find it hard to explain or even express through words the intimate moments I’ve been so lucky to share onstage with my colleagues and the audience. Most recently, dancing in Angels’ Atlas was one of those extremely transformative moments. I fear that if I try to explain how incredibly personal that experience was for me, it would diminish just how grateful I feel to have been a part of such an original piece of art created by the choreographic genius that is Crystal Pite.

15. Favorite ballet?

My favourite ballet would have to be Onegin. To watch a female character such as Tatiana have substantial character growth, as well as choose herself at the end of the story is striking. This ballet, like many others I admire, has an incredible musical score and dramatic choreography but contradicts the usual story line of the heroine perishing. Not to say I don’t love Giselle or Swan Lake, because I also really enjoy those ballets, just for different reasons.
16. What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?

I think moving away from home to go to school in Toronto at 13 was a big risk. I’m so lucky it was a positive experience, but I believe had I not had such an incredible support team in my family and close friends, it could’ve been a very different journey.

17. When are you most proud of yourself?

I’m most proud when I can commit to something 100% and finish it knowing it had all my attention. I’m never as proud of completing something that’s been done half-heartedly.

18. Tell us about an awe-inspiring thing you've seen or experienced.

When I was in Vancouver this past December, I bought a ticket to a show because a friend of mine was already going. I had no idea what the show was about or who was performing. The show was by Out Innerspace Dance Theatre and the production was called Bygones. It has ended up being one of the most incredible shows I’ve ever witnessed. I’m so thankful to have been a humble follower in that instance, otherwise I never would’ve seen it! 

19. Do you have a favourite quote?

I thought about looking one up, but if I have to do that, I probably don’t have a favourite quote.
20. Finally, what is the top item on your bucket list?

I want to go on a solo road trip across the east coast of Canada. Before I do that, I should probably get my driver’s license.

Learn More About Hannah


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