Emma Koppelman

In January this year, Emma Koppelman signed a contract with The Australian Ballet Company and now being a professional ballerina is her 6-day-a-week job. 

We got to chat to Emma about day-to-day life at The Australian Ballet Company; what it's like trying to strive for unattainable technical perfection and how she balances work (dance), life and nutrition to consistently improve her dancing, while maintaining a strong and positive mindset.

How long have you been practicing Ballet?
I started ballet when I was 4 years old, and I am now 19 turning 20! I had a year off ballet when I was around 10 and did gymnastics instead, however soon found my way back to ballet.

What or who made you keep going?
In Ballet we are constantly finding new ways to improve, different ways to execute steps and learning and understanding how our body uniquely works. We are always reaching for perfectionism however in ballet it is never attainable. Seeing improvement on myself is one factor that brings me back to ballet. However, it is ultimately that fantastic feeling you get when dancing on stage that is like a drug to us dancers. It is something where I can feel so free, and like the real world stops for that moment you are on stage.

 As a dancer, where do you want to be in 5 years?
A dancer who has had many great opportunities, who has travelled the world performing and been able to gain as much experience as I can. I would love to be dancing solo roles and be as injury free as possible!

What are your sights set on for 2018?
This is my first year with The Australian Ballet Company so my main aim is to be settling in to a new job as a professional dancer! We are touring this year overseas and interstate which will be very exciting and I am very keen to learn new repertoire and be a part of this great company.

How many days a week do you practice and for how long?
I work/dance six times a week (Mon-Sat). Days usually start with 9:30am pilates before daily classical ballet class, and then could end at 6:30pm after a full day of rehearsals/physio/costume fittings and some extra gym work if we have the time. If we have a show that night however, we may leave the theatre at 10:30pm with a slightly different schedule of rehearsals throughout the day in order for us to prepare for the show that night.

How do you manage a work (dance) / life balance?
A ‘work/dance -life’ balance is very important to me! Throughout the day if I have time I could read a magazine and have my coffee outside in the sun. Or at night go out for dinner with my friends/family or see a movie! On our day off it is also a great time to see new things or just relax. Even though a lot of the time it is go go go, it is so important for us as individuals to feel human and not that ballet consumes everything.

What other exercises compliment your dance training?
Other than ballet I do pilates based exercises at our company gym but also take some outside classes occasionally. I am also getting more into yoga, and love going for a long walk. Hitting the bike for some extra cardio fitness and when I have time I may join a class at the gym. Swimming is also great for dancers as there is no stress on the joints but extremely good for you.

What's your biggest achievement in your ballet career?
One of my biggest achievements is getting a contract with The Australian Ballet, something I had also hoped for and dreamed of. I also danced the lead role of ‘Swanhilda’ in the Australian Ballet School’s production of ‘Coppeila’ in December. It was a challenging role which I slowly built up strength for and practised over and over, it was a great accomplishment to dance that role. I felt so rewarded and it was such a fun and comical role to dance as well which was great! 

What foods are important for your active lifestyle?
Overall having enough fuel and a wide variety of foods that make you feel good and that can give you the ability to perform your best. Having a good breakfast to start your day right (plus breakfast is my fav meal of the day!) and then throughout the day topping up with protein rich snacks that help muscle recovery as well as carb rich foods to give you optimum energy.

What do you think is the key to success?
To always work on yourself, and create you own path. Even though it is easy to compare ourselves, we are the only ones that can better ourselves.

How do you serve The Muesli?
I serve my muesli with yoghurt, fresh fruit and a little bit of milk or on top of a smoothie bowl!

 Follow Emma's journey with The Australian Ballet Company on her Instagram

Photos sourced from and Simon Parris: Man in Chair

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