NEXT week, the Birmingham Royal Ballet will be bringing Aladdin to the Lowry, Salford Quays.

Lachlan Monaghan and Yaoqian Shang will be performing the lead roles of Aladdin and the Princess Badr al-Budur

They took time out from rehearsal to talk about Aladdin, coping with long hours of rehearsal and what makes the perfect partnership

Lancashire Telegraph:

Lachlan Monaghan and Yaoqian Shang rehearse Aladdin (Picture:Ty Singleton)

Will audiences be familiar with the story of Aladdin, or is it quite different from the famous Disney film?

Lachlan: It is quite different. In the ballet our director David Bintley goes back to the original story from the Arabian Nights rather than the Disney version. We don’t have a monkey or a talking parrot but we do have flying carpets and genies!

You’re less a week away from your first performances at The Lowry in Salford. How are rehearsals going?

L: The first things you attempt to conquer in rehearsal are the pas de deux.

As an audience member you might think the pas de deux or the solos are the hardest part, and they do have the most difficult steps, but actually it’s all the transitions, interactions with the other characters and the props that are the difficult things to get a handle on.

They take time to learn, and it’s not really until we get to full cast rehearsals that we see it come together.

There must be fine balance between relaxing after a long day of rehearsals, and thinking over the work you’ve done that day. How do you manage that?

Y: I prefer to just switch off. I like to think about the work before I do it rather than later. There can be a lot of corrections, and if you keep thinking about them you just pile extra pressure on yourself, and I really don’t like that. The next day, before I have rehearsals, I’ll go through corrections then and see what I have to work on.

L: Immediately after rehearsal, I like to reflect a little bit on the positive things. There’s always going to be something that’s gone wrong – I don’t think you ever walk away going ‘well, that was perfect’ – but that’s the beauty of performing a character role because every day can be different. The way we play Aladdin and the Princess in our first show will be different from the way we play it in our second show. That’s what’s exciting – the growth, and the change, and responding to each other. I like to switch off as well; watch TV, listen to music, do all those normal things. It’s good to chill out and remind yourself that, as brilliant as ballet is, there’s a big world out there.

What do you think makes a good partnership, both in rehearsal and on stage?

Y: It’s definitely important to have fun. We’ve had a lot of laughs.

L: There are some quite challenging lifts in Aladdin where, holding her weight, I’ll have to go down on my knee and drop to the floor.

There have been some quite heavy crash landings to laugh about. I think it’s really important to have a good sense of humour and to have fun.

Y: It’s true. Also, Lachlan is so clever. I always say that; he just knows exactly where you are. We’ve never really danced together before Aladdin but we’ve worked really well from the start.

With partnering you need to find your co-ordination together, and things feel different from one partner to another, but for us there’s been nothing difficult that we’ve had to fix.

L: Yaoqian is brilliant; she’s just such a natural dancer. There have been so many rehearsals where we hadn’t even tried bits before, and decided to just do a section with the music.

We’d do it and it would work, so we’d just keep going. We enjoy dancing together so much that each section just falls into place. That’s what audiences seem to remember – the rapport of a partnership, and the way you look at each other.

If you weren’t a ballet dancer, what would you be doing?

Y: I’d quite like to learn some interior design because I’ve always liked drawing but I’ve never had time to work on it properly. It’s my dream to build my own house.

L: I’m very interested in photography. I think being a dancer teaches us so many skills, and being a dancer turned photographer is rare.

I also play piano and my dream is to one day choreograph my own ballet, and also write the score. That’s my ultimate goal.

Aladdin, the Lowry, Salford Quays, Wednesday, September 20 to Saturday, September 23. Details from 0843 208 6000 or