Nicola Micallef had begun dancing at the age of four at St. Michael’s School, where she was introduced to the joys of dance through ballet. It was about three years later when she started training at the Dance Workshop. She’s trained in the Cecchetti Syllabus from the age of seven until now, as a vocational student, successfully completing her Advanced 2 exam last December. She later began contemporary at the age of thirteen, where she found a new love for such an interpretive and diverse form of dance.
Throughout her training, she attended multiple courses and workshops, both locally and internationally, most notably at the Royal Ballet School of London (2010) and the English National Ballet School (2015). In 2016, she was also given the incredible opportunity to dance with the company members from Cienfuegos Danza, Spain, in their piece ’88 Lillies and a Dog. Between February 2016 and December 2016, she performed and trained locally with the Junior Dance Company, under the direction of Sara Accettura. Here, she trained with various local teachers and artists, including Lucia Piquero and Warren Bonello.
Above: Captured at MIDCE 2015, Malta
Date of Birth: 1st June, 1999
Star Sign: Gemini
What’s your general perception of the local ballet field?
The local ballet field is on a rise and is constantly improving throughout the years. The level of ballet locally has definitely increased, with many uprising and talented dancers here on the Maltese Islands. However, there are numerous problems which I feel still need to be addressed. The level of local training is of a high enough standard that students would be able to pursue dance further at vocational schools, however I feel that there isn’t enough support for this. I feel that we also need to develop a local audience which would actively come to watch local and international students and artists performing on local stages and events.
If you had to meet any other ballerina, local or foreign, who would it be and what would you talk about?
An idol I’ve had from about the age of 11 is Miko Fogarty. I began watching her videos on YouTube and found her absolutely mesmerising to watch. Since she is only two years older than I am, I took her as my role model due to her pure talent and achievements obtained at such a young age. I would love to listen to all of the roles she’s played, outstanding theatres she’s performed at and experiences she’s had working with world renowned dancers and choreographers.
Do you feel you have enough space to spread your artistic wings in Malta?
Yes and no. I believe that we definitely have strong teachers over here who train students to a high level. However, there is little reason to pursue it any further than a recreational hobby or semi-professional work. The main joy of dancing is to perform and share your passion and talent in front of an audience, but audiences simply aren’t strong enough to make it a viable choice. The recent founding of ZfinMalta National Dance Ensemble is also a huge step in the right direction, showing that a strong ballet background can definitely help dancers become versatile and branch out into contemporary dance. However I still feel that we are at a stage where dance is seen as little more than a hobby.
Nicola captured by Kurt Paris
How does Malta fare with the rest of the world with regards to ballet?
When you consider that many other countries in the world have large resident ballet companies where students are chosen from a young age and train vocationally under world class teachers until they arrive at a highly trained state to be part of a company, I still think it would be unfair to say that Malta is very far behind. We’re slowly developing an infrastructure to train students at such high levels and letting go of the mentality that dance is something that you pursue as a hobby. We’re incorporating varying styles at correct ages to allow students to become versatile and interested in diverse ways of moving. We still have quite a way to go to ever come close to leading countries in ballet and other styles of dance, but the positive thing is that we’re making constant progress!
Can you talk us through a typical day in your life?
Being a student, a typical day always involves some sort of way of balancing out my academic and artistic work. My day begins with school, with lessons spread out through the day from 7.45am until around 12/2.45pm. This is followed by lunch at home, normally very rushed since I would need to get ready for private lessons. After sitting down for around three hours, my body can finally get moving at the end of the day! Ballet class goes on for around two hours – the first hour being a normal ballet class followed by an hour dedicated to rehearsals for our upcoming performance. Once class is over, I can finally go home to shower, eat dinner and either do my work or study, according to what’s been assigned to me. This crazy timetable becomes more relaxed on other days of the week, making studying and working a little easier. Dancing has become a large part of my life, and does of course take up a lot of time and effort, making it a challenge to keep up with everything else, but I just couldn’t imagine my life without it!