Talking to Heidi Hall and Chris Marney, Central School of Ballet
A Life Well Lived
As part of our journey to re-define Wealth we are exploring what “A Life Well Lived” means: interviewing artists, entrepreneurs, explorers, and change-makers as they share their stories and ask “what is my life well lived?” Here, we speak to Heidi Hall and Chris Marney from the Central School of Ballet about their careers, the School and what living well means to them.
Heidi Hall is the Director of the Central School of Ballet, and Chris Marney is their Artistic Director. We first met the two of them when students from the School performed an intimate private performance in our Music Room, Mayfair. Both alumni of the School under the Director and Founder, Christopher Gable, they went on to enjoy incredibly successful careers in the arts, before both returning to teach at the School.
On The Central School of Ballet
“I started at Central when I was 16” says Chris “and after spending a lot of time away from the School during my career as a professional dancer, I returned about seven years ago as a Choreographer. I then studied my MA in Choreography here, so I’ve really come full circle. My career began here as a student, and now I’ve returned as Artistic Director.”
When it comes to pinpointing a particular highlight of their careers, Chris says it’s far too hard to choose just one, as they have had so many memorable experiences as professional dancers. “It really is so hard to choose” says Heidi “but one of the proudest moments of my career was performing in The Phantom of the Opera in the role of Meg Giry, a principle role […] and for me getting to that point was a real pinnacle moment in my dance career. The other was taking over the Directorship of Central.”
“You want to make a difference in the students life” adds Chris “so of course there are testing times simply because of the importance of that. But then there are other times when sharing an office together feel’s a bit like being back in a dressing room because of the great relationship that we have.”
And when it comes to professional success, Chris explains that, for them both, it often comes at the end of the School year, at graduation. “When I see that the students have had a happy time at Central. We go on a tour together all over the country; you really feel their success and you see how happy they are on the road, performing, and ultimately getting jobs in the profession.”
“I think also taking them from 16 during their first year, we are really privileged to be part of their journey.” adds Heidi. “Sometimes those journeys can be a bit rocky and we have to look after them as young people, not just dancers, and so we always say that this is place to make your mistakes, where people care about you very much.”
On Living Well
For Heidi, she says that living a good life is all about making sure you live without regret. “Somebody once said to me you will always make the right decision based on the information available to you at the time. Something I try to pass on not just to my own children, but the students here too, is to make decisions, be bold, be brave, and try to never look back with any regrets.”
“There is also a big leap from seeing them as first years” says Chris “to a time during their final year when you see them really become a character. That’s something we don’t see too much of in the beginning – we just see a young person working on the technique of dance – but then suddenly you see this person become someone, become a character, and that is incredibly rewarding.”
“I think that’s why it’s such a difficult one to answer” adds Heidi “because technically we’ve already retired. It’s like being a footballer or something, because when you career as a dancer finishes, you’ve retired, but then we’ve both gone on to do something else […] In the arts in particular, we have teachers that pass on so much wisdom and knowledge, but are past what you might traditionally think of as ‘retirement age’ and yet they are still influencing and teaching young people today.”
“So I don’t think we’ll ever really retire. We’ll always be active in the arts.”
Ballet Central’s 2018 tour dates will be announced early in the New Year, see Central School of Ballet’s news page for more information.
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