She grew up in Australia until she moved to France and Switzerland to get professional dance training. She had the opportunity to experiment with many different art projects in Hong Kong, Singapore, and China. She was in New York for a while. And then, just a few years ago, she decided to call London home.
A classically trained dancer and an innovative, out-of-the-box choreographer, Rose Alice has been forging a new path between the classical dance structures and contemporary culture since forming International Arts Collective in 2015.
Pushing the human body to its extremes through brilliant, emotion-led choreographies, Rose Alice seems to feel at home and like a complete stranger in this world at the same time.
Her goal is to “leave a legacy of heart, depth, originality, and unfathomable passion.”
We caught up with artist Rose Alice to discuss how dance has shaped her life, what is the driving force behind her work, and what is her advice to people who are finally ready to move from their comfort zone, break free from what society says they “should” do, and live a life that is unapologetically theirs.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you become a dancer, and where did you receive your training?
I started quite late for a dancer; it began as a casual after-school class at the age of 9 and then very quickly became an obsession, and by 12, I had left home and normal schooling to train full-time with a private coach. I completed my final pre-professional training at Basel Theatre Ballet in Switzerland on scholarship from the Prix De Lausanne.
What drew you to ballet as a child?
I think I have been creative since birth (laughs). When I started to dance even from a young age, I felt free and at home simultaneously. The militant style training combined with artistry was and still is the reason I breathe.
How would you describe the overall style of your work? To what extent has your classical dance training helped you develop your own artistic style over the years?
I have been called a “Rogue Ballerina” for a while now (which I love with my whole heart). I still have a very strong classical technical foundation to everything I create; however, I push the physicality to the extreme in a contemporary way while making sure every breath or movement of the body is absolutely emotion-led. For me, the artistry and soul connection has to come through the vessel of the physicality, not the other way round. I want to ensure that anyone who sees me or my work on stage or screen feels everything humanly possible. I want to leave a legacy of heart, depth, originality, and unfathomable passion.
What are the most important traits a professional dancer should have?
Consistency, artistic integrity, and an unwavering moral compass. These three things help you grow, evolve, and most importantly, build longstanding relationships with everyone you encounter and set you up for a life/career that is pure, true, unapologetically yours, and therefore has untouchable longevity.
What difference do you feel in today’s dancers compared to the old-school style?
While it is undeniable that young dancers have a more extreme physical ability these days, I feel that artistry is being a little watered down and lost in the formative years due to the “quick fix” nature of social media. It is crucial that whilst obviously capitalizing on the promotion and exposure that is now available and necessary, we need to ensure that the studio is still a sacred space for mistakes and growth and that it is not always featuring a camera. Failure and feeling safe to do so in the most vulnerable way is key to nurturing the next generation of artists.
Any suggestion you would like to give to upcoming dancers?
You are allowed to have a voice; it’s okay if you don’t fit in a pre-existing box, be a critical thinker and be unapologetic in your pursuit of what you want regardless of the hurdles ahead. It is not an easy life, but if this art form is the reason you breathe and your purpose in life, then it is worth it!
What do you like most about performing, and which is your favorite place to dance?
If I am being totally honest, performing isn’t really my favorite thing. I get so nervous that it sometimes takes away a bit of the joy. However, the adrenaline rush and total stillness of mind that happen in the moment is a feeling I chase relentlessly. I am happiest in a studio in New York; it is my soul and creative home.
Describe the best performance you’ve ever put on.
Although the experience was stressful beyond measure, my production “FREE” in 2019 was creatively the best thing I have ever produced that has actually been seen by an audience. I have a few things that haven’t been released to the world yet which surpass this infinitely, but all in good time (laughs). It was an eclectic, emotion-led hour of high-intensity dance with live music by candlelight. It changed me as a human and as an artist in more ways than you could even imagine.
What were some of the highlights of your career?
Touring China with Zhang Yimou’s first-ever theater show, performing at the Palais Garnier in Paris, and working with Rag’n’Bone Man and Arlo Parks are close to my heart; however, every single performance on stage or film has its own magic, so this question is actually hard for me because it all feels like a humbling highlight.
Tell us about the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an artist in your career.
There have obviously been a few notable events that have been debilitating in many ways however I think the biggest challenge I have faced and continue to face as an artist is accepting that most people doing the same craft do NOT have the same relationship with it as I do. This can be very isolating and, over the years, has given me no choice but to implement emotional boundaries to not get used or drained to the point of no repair. Shout out to all the REAL ONES! I see you; I feel you; I am you.
Apart from being a dancer, you are now a creative director and a choreographer. How did you transition from dancing into these positions?
I have always choreographed alongside dancing, even as a young child, so that was a natural progression, and I think similarly with the creative direction, it was quite natural. I have always enjoyed holding a room with artists, and I think the older I get, the more comfortable I feel in that space. It is still nerve-wracking, and it is never lost on me what a privilege it is to have artists trust me enough to be in these roles.
Where do you usually draw your inspiration from?
Music… MUSIC… Feeling as deeply as possible for humans and more MUSIC!
Tell us about the artist you admire the most.
Ludovico Einaudi is an artist I have always admired. For me, he sits in this beautifully authentic space with everything he does. There is also a depth and simplicity to his work that has always drawn me in. I remember seeing him gently stroke a piano with the back of his hand and captivate an entire room with stillness! He is the personification of an ARTIST with nothing to prove and everything to share.
What inspired you to found International Arts Collective in 2015?
I desperately wanted creative freedom and saw the need for some fresh blood in the dance world and the need to generate more work for dancers and musicians around the world.
What is the most beautiful thing about the arts?
I think the fact that art transports you to another realm is the most beautiful thing. Without art, the human existence on Earth would be so incredibly beige.
What is the artist’s role in society?
As artists, I believe we have an obligation and responsibility to use our gifts to highlight social issues and use these vessels of beauty to educate and expand minds and hearts at every possible opportunity!
What project are you working on right now?
I am currently working on my life’s masterpiece, which is a documentary series following the life of an artist and the creative process. This is in development now and will be filmed and created in both London and New York. The unconventional life I have led with all its beauty and trauma has brought me to this, and I honestly couldn’t be more terrified, focused, overwhelmingly grateful, and inspired.
What is your dream collaboration, and why?
I would love to collaborate with composer Hans Zimmer. I have always been in awe of his process and product, and to share a space for creation with him would be a life-changer.