Reverence: Fearless and Fierce

Royal Ballet principal Edward Watson plunges full force into his roles.
Published in the June/July 2014 issue.

Photo by Johan Persson

You have incredible flexibility—how has that changed over the years?
I’ve learnt how to use it to say what it can, rather than just flashing it around and being a freak. It’s easier to control now; I’m stronger than I was. It’s become a really amazing tool for me to tell a story.

What is it like playing a bug in The Metamorphosis?

It’s extraordinary because—is he a bug? Is it a metaphor for someone who’s had some kind of breakdown, someone who has a physical deformity? I don’t really think of it as a bug. It’s something that isn’t human, and that’s the absurdity of the whole story.

Do you identify with some of your roles?

I have to be careful because they’re all psychos! There are things in all the MacMillan ballets that I identify with: being a bit of an outsider, that kind of obsessive love. You don’t always realize that there is part of that in you until you’ve done it.

How nervous do you get before a performance?

I normally don’t sleep at all the night before, just from thinking about what I want to achieve. I’m anxious until about 5:30 pm on the day, and then something happens to me. I go, “I’m going to do this.” And I’m fine.

What do you enjoy more: performing or being in the studio?

Performing, but, frustratingly, I’ve actually given some of my best performances in the studio.

What’s your biggest indulgence?

Eating out all the time, because I’m the worst cook in the world. I like going to new restaurants, and I’m up for trying anything. I am kind of a foodie—I just don’t want to cook it myself!

Do you like curtain calls?
I hate them. It’s not that I’m not appreciative, but it’s like you’ve been in this other world, and then you snap back into reality. I have this weird moment when I’m completely overwhelmed. I guess I do secretly love it, but it’s not my reason to dance.