Ballet C&V Ladies Interviews Movers & Shakers

Movers and Shakers: Jeanette Kakareka

In this guest blog, C&V Lady and Bayerisches Staatsballett corps member Jeanette Kakareka details the whys and hows of moving to another ballet company.

This season I’ve made the move to Bayerisches Staatsballett. It was decision I made for many reasons. I had performed so much with the English National Ballet: I can’t even begin to imagine how many shows I must have been in over the past four seasons. I saw a lot of beautiful places in the world, some less so, but it was always a learning experience. I learned the value of hard work and teamwork from my amazing colleagues.

I had started to feel very comfortable onstage – almost dangerously so. It wasn’t about leaving ENB: I just got to a point that I felt like if I was going to make a change, it needed to happen now. I like to feel that I am always moving forwards. Last season I performed in  6 programs and missed 1 due to injury – I had sprained my knee during a run through.

JeanetteKakareka-DanceJeanette Kakareka performing Lost in Thought by Juanjo Arques during her time with the ENB.
Pic: DanceTabs

That was not a particularly short season for ENB. It  lasted over 13 months from July 2016 to August 2017, and it included more programs than in past seasons. At ENB, there were large blocks of shows where we’d do up to twelve shows a week during the busiest of times, and at least six shows a week while touring nationally. The national tour usually lasted five weeks. We only got to stop in London for a night or two in between. There was also a six week period  at the London Coliseum when we did four weeks of Nutcracker, followed immediately by  another ballet. During my last season, we did 48 shows and 2 dress rehearsals of Nutcracker alone! So while I had the chance to perform many times, I didn’t get to dance many different programs.  I really wanted more variety, and I wanted repertoire better suited for a taller dancer like myself.

Jeanette-CloudandVictory-BalletBody5Jeanette in her C&V Ballet Body Guide tee.
Pic: Min, Cloud & Victory

Of course, I had my share of worries for the move. I had that fear of “starting over” in a new company and about taking on too much, particularly regarding the real-life difficulties of moving from London to Munich! . I had a lot of self doubt – one thing I’ve learned is that when you move anywhere, you never really know what you’re getting yourself into. Even if you’re lucky enough to be able to ask someone you already know in the school or company you’re considering, your own experience can be entirely different to theirs. But my motivations to move outweighed my fears of moving -so we took the plunge!

I say we, because I was also motivated by the fact that both my boyfriend and I got were offered  jobs  at Bayerisches Staatsballett. He played a huge part in helping me trust in myself to do it all again–that I can stick it out and start over, and get all new staff to trust me. The first two months have by moved very fast here–we’ve already performed Taming of the Shrew, Giselle, La Bayadere, Alice in Wonderland, and now we are learning Anna Karenina. The shows feel more special because there are less of them; they feel more important.

JeanetteKakareka-BlackSwanJeanette Kakareka and Daniele Silingardi in the Black Swan pas de deux
Pic: Dasa Wharton

At the moment, we will be focusing on the premiere of Anna Karenina, but so far it’s been a lot of switching between ballets throughout the day. This is challenging for the mind and body–I felt very sore and tight for the first month and a half. I just wasn’t used to learning, rehearsing, and performing this many ballets at once. When it gets tough I remind myself that it’s helping me grow. I feel more comfortable in this company because I am of a more average height here. I’m still tall, but not significantly so. There are women here even taller than me,  so I have other tall, beautiful women to learn from. I also feel that roles are consequently less restricted to me here, and that there are less preconceived ideas that the women must be short to dance in a certain role–in time we will see.

Jeanette-CloudandVictory-BalletBody2Jeanette in her C&V Ballet Body Guide tee.
Pic: Min, Cloud & Victory

I was also motivated by the practical fact that the ballet and opera are both in the same building – at ENB we were always touring! In Munich, some rehearsals and the gym are across the street, but there is no sitting on trains and buses for hours, travelling to different theatres. We will perform in Munich–one city–the entire season! I’m pretty psyched about that.

The makeup and hair department here have to do our hair and we have the option for them to do our makeup too, even if we don’t require anything special. I still like to do my own makeup because it helps me focus before the show, but it’s a nice option to have. We take the lift down from the same dressing room that we use every day and the stage is right there. We can warmup for the shows in the same large studio we use every day. For me, these are real luxuries! At ENB we did our own hair and makeup and danced on lots of different stages –  I felt a sense of camaraderie in this; we all had to work together to make it happen. However, I am thankful for these new changes that make performing that much simpler.

Jeanette-CloudandVictory-BalletBody0Jeanette sitting on the steps in Tokyo
Pic: Min, Cloud & Victory

Moving to Germany in general has been challenging. It’s such a different place in so many ways. For one, I didn’t know any German–and two months in, I still don’t know much. The banks and other important things seem to get done just a little bit slower here. Munich is also a very expensive city, and we’re learning where to go for food and necessities. We haven’t had a lot of time to unpack, so it’s taken us a full two months to get rid of most of the boxes. I’ve found it hard, practically, to move to yet another country. We had to rent out our previous home only a year after buying it! We had to find an agency and go through the whole process. That meant we needed to file for UK taxes all on our own for the first time, and  that’s taken quite a few emails and phone calls to work out. I’m most relaxed when my home feels like a home–I take pride in it. Leaving our home in London was extremely hard for me, but I’m going to work on making our apartment in Munich feel like home now.

With time I believe that this move will prove to be for the best. Everything takes patience and believing in yourself, which is something I feel I need to work on. They always say life is about the journey, not the destination, and I sure hope that that’s true!

Read Cloud & Victory’s interview with Jeanette here.

In our ongoing series called Movers and Shakers, we talking to dancers who’ve made changes in their lives and careers to find out what they’ve learnt and what impact it’s had on them.


Follow Jeanette Kakareka on:
Facebook: @OfficialJeanetteKakareka
Instagram: @jeanettekakareka
WWW: Jeanette’s blog

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