Q&A with Scott McKenzie
May 4, 2021

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Scott McKenzie. Photo by Johan Persson.

What have you been doing in your spare time since the pandemic hit?

In all honesty, Netflix has taken up most of my spare time. Aside from that I’ve been trying to stay in contact with friends and video-calling as much as possible.

What would you have done as a career if you hadn't pursued ballet?  

That’s a hard one. As a child I wanted to be a pilot, a musical theatre performer and a sprinter, just to name a few. Definitely something active, even if not in the arts world.

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage? 

Actually, I’d made it four years as a professional without falling onstage. My last time performing pre-COVID, however, I was dancing in a gala in Spain and didn’t even make it three seconds on stage before tripping over my own foot and hitting the ground face first. It’s certainly one way to make an entrance… My director at the time laughed about it for quite a while afterwards!

What is your work philosophy?

To always do it for myself. If I feel like I have made progress and have put my own stamp on something then that is rewarding enough. 

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Scott McKenzie. Photo by Johan Persson.

How do you handle criticism? 

I always try to take it positively if it’s constructive and can benefit my work. If not, I don’t waste time thinking about it.   

What is your definition of a successful ballet dancer?  

The definition of success is very subjective but for me, it would be anyone who can look back on their career and feel satisfied that they stayed true to themselves throughout. I always love watching unique dancers. 

What’s the best thing about being a dancer?

The adrenaline rush as the audience applauds post-performance. A sound I hope we’ll hear again very soon.  

What’s the worst?

The pain. Ballet hurts.  

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Scott McKenzie. Photo by Johan Persson.

What music are you listening to right now? 

Recently I’ve had the Future Nostalgia album by Dua Lipa and the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat.

What are three random things most people don't know about you? 

  • I’m not a ‘beach person.’ I’d much rather unwind by a rooftop pool.
  • When I was 13 years old I played the titular role in Billy Elliot the Musical in London’s West End. Only the second Scottish ‘Billy’ to do so!
  • I love minimalist design.

What was the last thing you changed your mind about?

What to write for this answer. 

What cheers you up on an off day?

Blasting 80s music hits at home. Nothing like a good ballad.

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

Hitting the snooze button. A very slippery slope.

What is your favourite onstage memory?

The premiere of William Forsythe’s Artifact Suite when I was dancing with Wiener Staatsballett. An incredible moment for the company at their very best. I’m very much looking forward to making more of these memories with the National Ballet when it is safe to do so. 

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Scott McKenzie. Photo by Johan Persson.

What is your favourite ballet and why?

Definitely Manon by Kenneth MacMillan or John Cranko’s Onegin.     

What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?

I guess the biggest risk I’ve taken is leaving the comfort of Europe and moving to Canada. It was definitely time to experience a new part of the world.  

When are you most proud of yourself?

In terms of performing it would be when I feel like I truly enjoyed myself onstage. It may be the satisfaction of getting to the end of a gruelling ballet or simply pulling something special together onstage with my co-workers. In terms of personal life, it would be when I break out of my comfort zone and do something that challenges me mentally. 

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

Watching Kamala Harris being sworn in as the first ever African-American, South-Asian American female Vice-President of the USA. Momentous and long overdue.

If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, who would they be?

Sir David Attenborough, Freddie Mercury, Miriam Margolyes. Just imagine... 

What’s the number one item on your bucket list?

I’d love to travel to India and experience the incredible culture/cuisine first hand. Ballet wise, I’d love to perform Nacho Duato’s Remanso.

Learn More About Scott

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