Harrison James

Harrison James, Principal DancerBorn: Paraparaumu, New Zealand
Trained: San Francisco Ballet School’s Trainee Program in California and the New Zealand School of Dance

If someone handed you $1,000,000 tomorrow, you would…
I’d go condo hunting immediately! Then invest the rest.

If you could live in any other time period, which would you choose?
I’d be interested to live life as a Roman in the era of their empire. Such a fascinating society.Harrison James, Principal Dancer

Could you tell us 3 random things we don’t know about you?
I don’t like chocolate ice cream. Animated films are one of the greatest joys in my life. I’m about 15 years behind with my taste in music.

Which movie could you watch on repeat?

What would you have done as a career if ballet hadn’t come your way?
I LOVED accounting in high school. Weird, I know. That or something architectural – building or urban planning.Harrison James, Principal DancerHave you ever had an embarrassing moment performance-wise?
During a performance in Tokyo, Japan I fell flat on the floor when my foot slipped out from underneath me while I was doing a battement to the side.

What’s the last thing that brought tears to your eyes?
I literally just watched a random video of a woman surprising her husband with her pregnancy. I have to admit I choked up a little.IMG_2802-2When you have a day off, what’s your favourite way to spend it?
Sleeping in, drinking too much coffee at brunch and writing in my journal.

Where in the world would you like to see yourself living some day?
I want to stay in Toronto. Aiming for that citizenship!Harrison James, Principal DancerWas there a pivotal moment that sold you on being a ballet dancer over doing anything else?
Not really. Dance just slowly took over my life and I was fine with it.

What is your philosophy towards your work?
I try to enjoy it. We work so hard that it’s very easy to get caught up in all the difficulties of our profession, so when my body feels relatively pain free and I’m dancing something that I know I’ve rehearsed really well, I just try to enjoy the moment.

How do you handle criticism?
Slowly…. I’ve always taken a long time to process how I truly feel about things.

Milk chocolate or dark?
Milk, all the way. With mint.Harrison James, Principal DancerFavorite colour and least favorite colour?
Green. Most greens. I don’t dislike any colours but maybe the inappropriate use of them.

What’s your definition of a successful ballet dancer?
One who is still trying to grow.

What’s the worst thing about being a dancer and what’s the best?
Mornings… I can barely walk. The best is performing, obviously.

Do you ever feel as magical as you look when you dance, or is it mainly just hard work and focus up there?
I’m pretty focused. I’ve rarely felt magical and when I have it’s usually been about two seconds before I do something embarrassing or forget a step.Harrison James, Principal Dancer
What’s the biggest misconception about you and why?
I think some people might see me as a confident person but that’s pretty far from the truth.

What do you worry about?
Pirouettes. They are a constant source of stress in my life.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why?
A knife, some sort of container for water and an excellent pair of shoes.

What’s your guilty pleasure song that’ll make you rock out no matter where you are?
Westlife, Flying without wingsHarrison James, Principal DancerThoughts on dating: inside the dance world, or out?
I’ve always dated outside but there are pros and cons to both.

Do you have a celebrity crush?
Zoe Saldana in Center Stage, Avatar, Star Trek. She’s always a strong and independent bad ass and I’m totally smitten with her.

What cheers you up on an off day?

What is your fashion style outside of work?

Classic, casual and reserved. I’m not a very flashy person.Harrison James, Principal DancerDo you have any bad habits that you’re working on breaking?
Watching Netflix until the early hours of the morning. I used to have such a solid sleep schedule!

Words of advice for young dancers?

Always make sure dancing is making you happy. Otherwise it’s not worth it.Harrison James, Principal DancerWhat’s the biggest risk you’ve taken, either personally or in your career?
I think it was taking that first step towards becoming a professional and leaving home to dance at a full-time dance school. That’s a huge and difficult decision to make at such a young age.

You were born in New Zealand. What are you favourite dishes and customs from home?
New Zealand does coffee well. You can get an excellent latte from a gas station.When are you most proud of yourself?
When I actually stick to the plans I made for my week. Mission accomplished!Harrison James, Principal DancerTell us about an awe-inspiring thing you’ve seen or experienced.
The view from the top of Mount Ngauruhoe in the centre of New Zealand’s north island. Jaw-dropping.

When do you feel at your best?

In the middle of a performance season. There’s something about the level of exhaustion/fitness that you reach which is quite amazing.

What are the top items on your bucket list?
Visit the UK.Harrison James, Principal DancerHarrison James is sponsored through Dancers First by Lucy White. 

Read Harrison’s bio, https://national.ballet.ca/Meet/Dancers/Principals/Harrison-James
See Harrison onstage in the 2016/17 season, national.ballet.ca

  • Edward Karek said:

    Stunning photos and interesting answers!