Nadine Wright Interview
By: Christie Manning
Industry Dance Magazine
I cannot express in one word how much in awe I am with this woman. She is without a doubt one of the most powerful and inspirational women I have ever met. When I got the chance to interview her, I barely got anything down on paper, as I was hanging off her every word. Prepare to have your life enlightened.
So you weren’t always an acting coach…
Nadine: I went to Alberta Ballet School when I was sixteen years old and was heavily influenced by Lambros Lambrou. I attended Ecole Superieure de Danse du Quebec before joining Les Grands Ballets under director Larry Rhodes. The company toured through Spain, Asia, Canada, and the United States.
How did you get into acting?
Nadine: I retired from dance, and it was just like a natural transition. I started working in TV, film and theatre, and trained with some amazing coaches in LA, New York, and Vancouver. My teaching style is largely based on the Method, but I've created my own style of working that focuses on harmonizing my experiences by connecting movement and voice with a sense of being present. By working with these talented artists, I am finding myself connecting more to my own craft.
Where do you teach?
Nadine: I have a studio called ACT2 in Vancouver, where I teach on-going acting classes and coach actors for auditions. I also have a traveling workshop series where I teach two-day intensives in Nanaimo and on Salt Spring island. I also teach acting workshops for dancers, which is on-going at Harbour Dance Centre with their Intensive Training program (ITP). I wish I knew what I know about acting when I was dancing as it translates so beautifully into dance.
So what do you feel is the key to success?
Nadine. If you are a performing artist, musician, actor, etc., the key is relaxation. I’ve seen artists, both dancers and actors, warm up their bodies and vocal cords, but they don’ connect to how they're feeling. To find any authentic connection with a performance, you need to connect with yourself. Dancers often ask how these acting techniques relate to their dancing. I was working with a dancer recently who told me rehearsal director kept telling her to press her shoulders down. She thought she understood the note but nevertheless kept getting it. Before the show, she practiced a relaxation exercise I had taught her. connected to how she was feeling and discovered why she was holding the tension in her shoulders and was able to release it. As dancers we come from a physical place to correct something. but sometimes we need to look at it emotionally, find the tension we're holding and release it. I asked the dancer later if she noticed a difference. She replied that she was much more confident and was able to connect to the audience in a way she'd never done before.
What are your thoughts regarding the audition process?
Nadine: Help yourself get cast! What do I need to do to get cast? What they are looking for is authenticity. They want to see you reveal yourself. Sometimes they don’t even know themselves what they're looking for. Everyone wants to know what ‘IT’ is. Well, what ‘IT’ is being able to reveal who you truly are as an artist, which can be very scary. You have to express how you feel; tell the story. There is no right or wrong. At the end of the day, that is why the audience is coming. They want to see YOU and they want to be moved. It's not enough to feel it, you have to express it and share it! If you aren't emotionally connected to what you're doing, you're just a technical dancer. That's not what a choreographer wants to work with. Being a true artist takes bravery. One moment of truth can catch a choreographer’s eye. It's not about trying to impress, it's about revealing who you are.
What other advice can you share?
Nadine: Have something else in your life that's creative other than your craft. We artists tend to have tunnel vision. Go to the beach, learn pottery, get together with other artists and create your own projects. Put it out to the universe that you want it. Don't ever wait to get hired. Try not to put the people that are hiring you on a pedestal. Make yourself the CEO of your own company, and feel that energy when you walk into a room, like you’re the best person for the job. Don't wait to know your value until you get hired. You want to have the confidence before you go for the job. You don’t need that job to validate yourself.
Nadine: Not Ego. There’s a big difference. Ego is ‘I’m the best’, but it’s also, ‘I’m the worst’. Why? Because neither of them is true. Ego is the death of an artist. You can’t create from ego.
What else do you do?
Nadine: I direct as well, and am looking to do more of that. I directed an interesting play with aerial arts and some dance, and I like to use those multidiscipline aspects when I can. I love to bring dancers and actors together. I think it would be great if actors took more dance classes and dancers took more acting classes. Especially in Vancouver. It’s a film and television type town. I created the acting workshop for dancers because dance is so multimedia. When you auditioned as a dancer in my day, you were given choreography, and if you got through that, you were hired. Now they get you to speak on camera during the audition process and submit demo reels with the dancer talking about themselves. Companies like Cirque du Soleil and other professional companies want to see this, and dancers can lose a job because of not being confident speaking on camera. Movies like 'Black Swan' that incorporate dance, why not be a dancer that also has acting skills so you can audition competitively with the actors that do dance?
How can dancers overcome their fear?
Nadine: When artists are afraid, they tend to try and just push the emotion away. Or they say, ‘I don’t feel anything, I'm numb', that is also fear. You can't create from there, but you CAN create from •I am scared but I am going to do it anyway.' The key is to connect to what is actually going on and sit in that authentic emotional connection. That is true bravery is where artistry lives.