• The Underdog: Hannah O’Neill

    by  • February 9, 2013 • English, Features, Interviews, Pointe Magazine

    It is often the only way for a foreigner to get into the Paris Opera Ballet: start with a temporary surnuméraire contract and work in the wings for as long as it takes to land a coveted full-time position. Hannah O’Neill, who trained in Japan, New Zealand and Australia and won top prizes at a number of international competitions, started the arduous journey in 2011, and I caught up with her in the autumn as she was embarking on her second season as a temp. Here is my profile of this very talented young dancer for Pointe:

    Cover of the February/March 2013 issue © Pointe Magazine

    Cover of the February/March 2013 issue © Pointe Magazine

    It was an understudy’s worst nightmare: subbing on short notice in the front row of the corps in La Bayadère’s Shades scene. Last spring on the Paris Opéra stage, Hannah O’Neill struggled to hold one of the devilish arabesques, and had to put her leg down. “I had an attack of nerves,” O’Neill says. “I still have nightmares about it.”

    Though concerned, the company proved supportive. For the young dancer who had arrived from Australia just six months earlier, it was all part of a trying but rewarding first season as a surnuméraire, one of the dancers on a temporary contract with the Paris Opéra Ballet. At 20, with prizes earned at Youth America Grand Prix and Prix de Lausanne, O’Neill already had an impressive international resumé. Instead of joining a company where success might have been all but guaranteed, however, she decided to pursue her childhood dream of dancing at POB, where foreigners make up barely 5 percent of the dancers. (…)

    » Read the full article in Pointe: “The Underdog,” February/March 2013

    Hannah O'Neill in performance in Australia in 2008 © The Australian Ballet School

    Hannah O’Neill in performance in Australia in 2008 © The Australian Ballet School