Greta Hodgkinson: A Day in the Life
March 5, 2020
Principal Dancer Greta Hodgkinson retires from The National Ballet of Canada this year after a brilliant career that spanned a period of 30 years. She will say farewell with Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand. Follow Greta through a day in her life as she prepared for the role of Marguerite.
The first thing I do every morning is have a cup of coffee while I check my rehearsal schedule so I can mentally prepare for what I’ll be working on that day. Then I make sure my son, Maxime, is up, make him breakfast and get our lunches ready for the day. He takes the bus to school and once he’s off, I have my breakfast, usually toast or a scone, and enjoy some quality time with my daughter, Viviane, and husband, Etienne
, before I head to work.
I drive to work every day. I don’t listen to music or the radio but relish the solitary silence as I think about the day ahead. I make sure to arrive to The Walter Carsen Centre early, giving myself plenty of time to stretch and prepare for company class.
The first part of every workday is company class. I love this part of my day as it is very meditative for me. We warm up our bodies with class allowing us to focus on our development and the foundations of ballet. Centre work is the best part of class for me because I get to explore and play with my favourite exercise, pirouettes. I always make sure I’m prepared with my class must-haves: leg warmers, foam roller and lots of water.
Twice a week I do Pilates with Je-an Salas, our Resident Movement and Pilates Specialist. I discovered Pilates early in my career and it has kept me strong and agile for the last 30 years, which has helped prevent injuries. If I’m not at Pilates, I’m in physiotherapy. Both keep me in tip-top shape and injury free, especially while I prepare for a brand-new role.
I am preparing for the role of Marguerite in Marguerite and Armand
, a very special one-act ballet created in 1963 by Frederick Ashton for Margot Fonteyn
and Rudolf Nureyev
. We started working on this ballet for a few weeks in the summer and dove right back into rehearsals after The Nutcracker
. I’ve been rehearsing with both Principal Dancers Guillaume Côté
and Harrison James
, who will be dancing Armand. Our coach, Artist-in-Residence Rex Harrington
has been with us every step of the way and takes us through each rehearsal to get us ready for the stage. I have always wanted to dance this iconic role and am honoured that Karen
[Kain, Artistic Director] acquired it for me for this special occasion.
I always bring my own lunch, which varies between leftovers or a salad. It’s a nice break in my day to rest before an afternoon full of rehearsals. I usually have lunch with my close friends, Stephanie Hutchison
and Rebekah Rimsay
, who are both Principal Character Artists with the company, and Sophie Letendre, Manager, Artistic Scheduling. We all started at the National Ballet around the same time and it’s nice have been friends and colleagues for all these years. Once I finish eating, I check in with the Communications department, we’ve been gathering photos and videos from throughout my career for a lobby display during the run of Marguerite and Armand
After lunch, I have costume fittings. Today’s costume – the brilliant red gown I’ll get to wear, just one of the many costumes Marguerite wears during the 30-minute performance. The costumes for Marguerite and Armand
are magnificent and full of detail, especially Marguerite’s.
Once I’ve finished my fitting, I have a quick phone interview with Michael Crabb from the Toronto Star. He’s working on a profile
about my career and retirement from the National Ballet. I have been busy with media interviews leading up to my final performance, which has been a nice opportunity to reflect on my long career with the company.
After my interview, I head back into the studio to coach my fellow company dancers in Alexei Ratmansky
’s Romeo and Juliet
. I was one of the dancers who originated the role of Juliet in 2011 when Alexei created the new work to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the company. In 2017, I travelled to The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow to stage the ballet for the Russian premiere.
When rehearsals finish for the day, I head to pick up my kids from their afterschool activities and then we all head home for dinner. Our favourite dinner as a family is pasta. After dinner, we love to play board games or do a puzzle. It’s my favourite time of day, spending time with the family.
Come 8:00 pm, both kids are off to bed and Etienne and I catch up on each others day. This is my time to wind down and also prepare for the next day. While I watch TV, I usually prepare pointe shoes, respond to emails and enjoy some rest and relaxation.
I like to go to bed early after a busy day of rehearsals. Reading a book or simply doing some breathing exercises for meditation helps me clear my mind. Sleep is a very important part of my routine, as it helps my body recover and reset for the next day when I am back in the studio to do it all over again.
Angels' Atlas & Chroma & Marguerite and Armand is onstage February 29 – March 7, 2020.