I have a very special episode for everyone today. It’s special for many reasons, but especially special to me because as a young ballerina in training at The Australian Ballet School I used to peer through the studio windows and watch Lucinda Dunn every spare moment I got.

As you’ll hear in this conversation, at the start, in the middle and at the end… I’m a bit of a gushing mess, because all of a sudden I realised I was sitting across from the ballerina I most admired growing up. When you’ve spent hours scrapbooking photos of someone and studying their every move to then years later be interviewing them for your podcast, it’s a a very surreal moment.

Lucinda Dunn received her early training in Sydney with Tanya Pearson before going on to win a Prix de Lausanne scholarship to study at The Royal Ballet School, London. While in London, Lucinda performed with the Birmingham Royal Ballet before returning to Australia in 1991 to join The Australian Ballet. In 2002, Lucinda was promoted to Principal Artist and danced many roles in all of the major classical ballets such as Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake and Coppélia, Sleeping Beauty, Firebird and Nutcracker.

Lucinda has won numerous awards including Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Performance 2008, Helpmann Award nomination for Dance Performer of the Year in 2007 and 2004, Green Room Award for Best Female Dancer in 2005 and a Helpmann Award nominations for Best Female Dancer 2011, 2010. In 2015, Lucinda won an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer for her performance in The Australian Ballet’s Manon.

As Australia’s longest-serving ballerina, Lucinda announced her retirement in 2014 and received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), for her service to the performing arts through ballet. That same year Lucinda was appointed as the Artistic Director of the Tanya Pearson Academy and the Sydney City Youth Ballet.

It might surprise some of you that Lucinda wasn’t initially interested in becoming a ballerina. Inspired by her mothers performances on West End in London, her heart was actually set on Musical Theatre. We chat about this and many other topics, like how she almost left The Australian Ballet (many times!), her ridiculously high expectations of herself returning to the stage after having children and wether its harder to make it as a ballerina today…

I think some of you will be shocked by how honest and candid Lucinda is with her answers, I know I was, but if I’m really honest I shouldn’t have expected anything less from this stunningly unique and fiercely determined woman. I’m always attracted to this kind of person and it’s no wonder I couldn’t stop starring at her through the studio windows as a 15 year old…

I’d like to thank Lucinda for her time during my visit to Sydney and for being such an inspiration to me when I was a young ballerina trying to find her feet in the tough world of professional ballet. Honestly, Lucinda is the epitome of grit and grace. Even though I chose a different path, I’d like to think a slice of my strength and determination came from being in her orbit all those years ago.

I wish Lucinda all the very best in her new role as Artistic Director at Tanya Pearsons Academy in Sydney. When I was there to interview Lucinda I had the pleasure of watching some of the classes and it had a beautiful old-school vocational training vibe, rich in history with a heart at the nucleus. A beautiful place for any budding young ballerina with talent oozing out the studio doors.

As always, enjoy this very special conversation…

Grit & Grace,