20 Questions with Tene Ward
September 14, 2020

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

  • Painting with my mum. 
  • Daily workouts and walks along the beach with my sister. 
  • Reconnecting via FaceTime with friends and family.
2. What would you have done as a career if ballet hadn't come your way?

If I went with six-year-old Tene’s career choice, I would be a marine biologist. I recently finished an introduction course to Environmental Law so adult Tene’s choice would potentially be in that field but still something to do with the environment.

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

That would have to be when I was nine years old and competing in my first ballet competition. My classical solo was changed just prior to this and I completely forgot the ending. Instead of improvising as most people would have done, I was so nervous that I pretended to cough a couple of times and then finished in a pose on the floor. I still have a very vivid memory of that moment.

4. What is your work philosophy?

I would say take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. I believe that if we take care of our mental health by listening to positive, constructive self-talk and learning when to rest and when to push ourselves, we can develop into healthier and stronger artists with a greater appreciation for both ourselves and the art from.


5. How do you handle criticism?

I am learning how to deal with it better. We are given feedback to help us become better artists and I owe it to myself to listen and apply the feedback so I can learn and grow.
 
6. Do you have any habits or superstitions before you perform?

I always give the person in the wing with me a hug and wave to the person across the stage from me. My favourite is during The Nutcracker, all the women in the snowflake scene tap the tutus of the other dancers before we go onstage for good luck. We try to time it with the orchestra’s buildup of the score so it’s more dramatic. 

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

For me, two things go into being a successful dancer. One, your ability to show artistic freedom and make people feel something and two, feeling a sense of overwhelming peace and joy when you’ve achieved number one. I don’t know if it's a singular moment or if once experienced, whether it lasts the rest of your career but I am still striving to for it
 
8. What’s the best thing about being a dancer and what’s the worst?

Worst would have to be sewing pointe shoes. Some dancers find it therapeutic but I don’t enjoy it. The best part is seeing all the hard work come together. Those first steps onstage feel like coming home. When the curtain rises, the orchestra is playing, the sound is so full and you’re transported into something truly beautiful.


9. What's your guilty pleasure song that'll make you rock out no matter where you are?

Any song by Lizzo. She always gets me dancing.

10. What are three random things most people don't know about you?
 
  • My background is Sri Lankan, African-American and Cherokee Indian.
  • I used to play the saxophone because I wanted to be like Lisa Simpson (from The Simpsons).
  • I’m learning to speak Dutch. 
11. What was the last thing you changed your mind about?

Purchasing a jacket online. I left it too long and now it’s sold out.

12. What cheers you up on an off day?

Talking it out with my best friend or my mum, eating pizza or listening to good music.

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

Scrolling on my phone before I go to sleep.

14. What is your favorite memory of being onstage?

Performing in Angels’ Atlas by Crystal Pite. I have dreamed of dancing in one of Crystal’s works since I saw Nederlands Dans Theater perform in Australia. She has such a unique dance language and to have the opportunity to discover this and go on a creative journey with her was awe-inspiring.
Joe Chapman. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
15. Favorite ballet?

Manon. I think it’s dramatic and powerful. The score is also incredible to listen to.
 
16. What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?

Moving to the Netherlands for a year. It was a big decision for me to leave Australia as my family and I are very close. It was an incredible experience. Even though it was a risk, I made lifelong friends and it also led to me living and working in Canada.

17. When are you most proud of yourself?

I am most proud when I accomplish something I’ve been working on or when I achieve a goal I set for myself, both in my career and in my personal life.


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

My mother raising me by herself has always been inspiring to me. She has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and I am so grateful to have her as a constant light in my life.

19. Do you have a favourite quote?

“What come easy won’t last long and what lasts long won’t come easy” - Anonymous
 
20. Finally, what is the top item on your bucket list?

I really want to visit every country. It’s a big task but there is so much beauty, knowledge and culture in the world and I want to experience all of it! 25 down 170 to go!

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