Born: Vancouver, British Columbia
Trained: Canada’s National Ballet School
When you have a day off, what’s your favourite way to spend it?
I generally like to be as inactive as possible. I’ll take a bath with Epsom salts, relax on the couch or take my dog for a walk and throw a ball around with her.Was there a pivotal moment that sold you on being a ballet dancer over doing anything else?
I’ve been dancing since I was eight, but when I was ten years old I saw The National Ballet of Canada’s performance of Romeo and Juliet in Vancouver (it was Heather Ogden and Guillaume Cote’s debut) and I remember feeling like this is what I wanted, this was the ballet and role I wanted to dance… ten years later I ended up dancing the role of Romeo. What’s your definition of a successful ballet dancer?
Everyone’s definition is different as ballet is subjective art form, but I think the common thread is that if you are still happy and love what you’re doing and what you’re dancing, then you are successful.What cheers you up on an off day?
A bowl of junky cereal like Captain Crunch, Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms. It’s my guilty pleasure and it’s something I always let myself indulge in.
Ballet often seems to attract a very exclusive audience. Do you think that’s changing? What do you think its appeal could be to those who haven’t seen one yet?
I think it is changing. I think every art form has had to transform over the years and similarly, ballet has needed to embrace that and by doing so, we’ve opened up to a new generation of audience members. It’s our job as dancers and artists to be innovative and to embrace change.
Words of advice for young dancers?
Don’t waste a second doubting yourself. Be open and confident, which will enable you to take further strides in terms of improvement and learning. It makes a big difference if you can approach everything in that way. I spent a lot of my initial years with the company being overly conscious of myself and everyone else. I wished I’d known then that I would make the most progress when I just let that go. What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken, either personally or in your career?
Biggest risk/challenge I probably took was a few years ago, when I didn’t dance for two whole years because I was sick and diagnosed with late, chronic Lyme disease. The biggest challenge for me was finding a way to recover from that. During that break, it would have been really easy for me to say that’s it and that’s the end, but it made me realize how much I loved what I did even more and how much I wanted to fight for it.
Do you have a favourite quotation?
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
– E. E. CUMMINGSWhat is the best advice you’ve been given?
Right before my premiere as Romeo. I was 21 and incredibly nervous and friend and former Assistant to the Director Pamela Steele gave me a good luck card where she had written “It’s just ballet”. It took the pressure off and brought me down to earth and into a different mode. I think as dancers, we’re just trying to inspire something in the audience, to make them smile and feel something. I think that’s really enlightening and special for a performer. It’s easy to get wound up in the technical and mechanical aspects of dance, but I think it’s important to trust your body, yourself and to just enjoy it. Do you have any habits or superstitions before you perform?
I’m not particularly religious but sometimes before something really important to me or that I’m anxious about, I’ll say a quiet prayer. It takes me outside of myself and puts pressure in another set of hands. It’s something that’s habitual for me that I still do now.Brendan Saye is sponsored through Dancers First by Robin Robinson.
Read Brendan’s bio, https://national.ballet.ca/Meet/Dancers/2nd-Soloists/Brendan-Saye
See Brendan onstage in the 2016/17 season, national.ballet.ca