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2016 Genée Silver Medalist Talia Fidra

  • January 29, 2017
  • by Grace Gassin

After winning the silver medal at the 2016 Genée International Ballet Competition Final in Sydney this past December, Capezio Athlete Talia Fidra is one step closer to her goal of becoming a professional ballerina. Congratulations, Talia!

We caught up with her recently to celebrate her amazing achievement and to find out just what it takes to become a Genée medalist.

Congratulations on being awarded Silver at the Genée Final in Sydney! How did you feel when your name was called, and how have you been celebrating?

“I was so excited! I just kept thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it!’ over and over in my head. I was so happy that I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! I celebrated with my teachers and family that night at the Genée Finals cocktail party. It was very special having my friends all the way from Cairns there with me to share in the moment. It was such an amazing day!”

For those who have not competed, can you tell us a little about the process of auditioning and what the post-selection experience was like? 

“To qualify for the Genée, you need to have achieved a distinction in your Advanced 2 RAD ballet exam. I was so relieved and excited when I got the confirmation email and couldn’t wait to get started in the studio with my teacher, Claudia Dean.”

Talia Fidra. Photo by Prima DivaHow did you prepare for the competition? 

“The Geneé was the most prestigious competition I have ever entered, so I gave a great deal of thought to the preparation process. A ballet quote that I’ve known for years is ‘Trophies are won in the studio’. I wanted to make sure that we made every effort possible in our preparations so that I could stand proudly on the stage knowing that I had given the competition my all, regardless of the results.

I rehearsed my contemporary and classical variations twice a week with Claudia Dean, who polished and perfected my performances. I also attended regular open classes with Heidi Landford to develop my RAD classwork, as the Geneé has an adjudicated open class. On my own, I did a regular barre and some strengthening exercises every morning and night. A personalised physio program designed for the 10-week prep by Pondera Physiotherapy and Pilates further helped me target my weak areas in order to prevent injuries and build stamina.

My costumes were also designed and made specifically for the competition and involved hours of hand-beading crystals, so I helped out with that in my spare time.”

What was your favorite aspect of the Genée experience?

“Well, besides dancing on the Sydney Opera House stage, I’d definitely say the fact that it didn’t feel like a competition. Everyone was so friendly, and there was a great sense of camaraderie. I loved making new friends with people from all over the world. I also really enjoyed learning the commissioned contemporary piece by Tim Harbour.”

Do you have any pre-performance routines you follow? 

“A little ritual which I have developed is to stand at the side of the stage, breathe and say to myself, ‘I’ve got this’. It calms the nerves and allows you to remember the joy that performing brings you and, of course, helps me to then project this love of dance outward on to the audience. A quick ribbon check and costume tug never hurts either.”

What brand of Capezio pointe shoes do you wear and why? 

“I live for my Tiffany Pros. They have been my pointe shoe of choice ever since I won my first pair on Instagram over four years ago. I wear them because they feel as good as they look and allow me to forget they are there and just dance.”

Do you feel that your pointe shoes make a difference to your confidence when you dance? How have they helped you achieve success?

“Yes, definitely. I have tried several different brands of pointe shoes in the past, and none have ever made me feel this confident with my pointe work. I love the way the box allows me to sit right over it, and the shape of the heel doesn’t look baggy. I can easily find my center of gravity in the Tiffany Pro and really hold balances on stage. Those extra few seconds in an arabesque or in the ‘sustain’ after a double pirouette can make all the difference when you are trying to make an impact on your audience.”

Talia Fidra. Photo by Dance Exposure. GeneeDo you do anything special to prepare your pointe shoes?

“Yes. To prepare my pointes, I sew on ribbons and elastics and then break them in lightly at first, then further by wearing them during a class. There’s a demonstrational video of this on my YouTube channel, ‘Talia Fidra’, if any young dancers want to know how in greater detail.

I wear Bunhead® toe pads and jellies in my shoes and occasionally tape my toes to protect the skin from rubbing. A great way to prolong the life of your shoes is to rotate several pairs at once, allowing each pair to dry out between uses. Once I feel that they have been perfectly ‘broken in’, I’ll put that pair aside for stage performances. Another little tip is to number each pair and write ‘left’ and ‘right’ in each shoe so you can stay organized.”

If you could give other young dancers any advice, what would it be?

“My advice to any dancer is to always carry in your heart the reason why you dance. If you dance with joy and passion, this will show in your movement quality, and the audience will appreciate it, too.”

The journey to becoming a ballerina is a long and tiring process, and there are many challenges and obstacles along that path. If you commit to it, however, and work hard every day, you will find a great sense of enjoyment and reward in achieving small goals, and the technique will fall into place. If you focus on all the things you can’t do at once, it’s easy to doubt yourself or give up and feel lost.

What are your plans for 2017? 

“I can’t wait to begin my full-time training at the Queensland Ballet Academy this year. The faculty is full of extremely talented and experienced dancers and teachers, and I can’t wait to develop my technique and work on my performance quality!”

Follow Talia Fidra on Instagram and on YouTube.

Article produced by Dance Informa.

Photo (top): Talia Fidra by Damian Tierney.

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