Portrait of a Dancer

A Photostory featuring Senior Principal Ballet Dancer, Laura Bösenberg

© Tatjana Meirelles

Laura Bösenberg is the Senior Principal Ballet Dancer at Cape Town City Ballet. She has danced a wide variety of roles, including Carmen and Giselle, with leads in Swan LakeThe Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet. There is a distinct sense of passion and life that Laura brings to the characters she plays, which is what I was looking to capture in this series of portraits.
We have re-imagined these characters in a contemporary way, with Laura’s experience of interpreting each role as the narrative.

My first principal role was at 21, I danced Cinderella…

Laura Bösenberg. Cinderella. © Tatjana Meirelles
Laura Bösenberg. Cinderella. © Tatjana Meirelles

It was really exciting! There were a lot of props; a broom, bucket, tiara and lots of different pairs of shoes. From normal shoes to sparkly glass slippers to shoes with no ribbons so you can remove them on stage. I love decorating the shiny shoes, the last time I stuck pieces of mirror ball onto the shoes and they reflected a lot! But I had to be careful not to cut my partner so I softened the edges with silicone… They were really sparkly!

I enjoy the acting part of it. I like to wander around the sets before the show, to feel the kitchen, the ballroom… it’s much easier to dance as a character: it’s not you on stage, it’s Cinderella.

My favourite character is Juliet…

Laura Bösenberg. Juliet. © Tatjana Meirelles
Laura Bösenberg. Juliet. © Tatjana Meirelles

Romeo and Juliet is my favourite ballet, with beautiful music composed by Sergei Prokofiev.  It’s a drama and in the space of two hours you go from a naive 13 year old girl, to falling in love with your partner, getting married, and then the emotional ending.

I’ll be dancing Juliet again at Maynardville in January. It’s quite a different experience dancing outdoors: it’s cold, there are bugs, you step off the stage into sand, one girl even had a gecko fall onto her shoulder!

At one time, I had the ‘pretty fairy’ stereotype, so I played Carmen!

Laura Bösenberg. Carmen. © Tatjana Meirelles
Laura Bösenberg. Carmen. © Tatjana Meirelles

I loved playing Carmen; it was an opportunity to break away from that sterotype. I really enjoy the challenge of doing something different.

I like to wander around the sets before the show

The story of Coppelia is unusual…

Laura Bösenberg. Coppelia. © Tatjana Meirelles
Laura Bösenberg. Coppelia. © Tatjana Meirelles

Unusual in that the female character has to get back her lover; he’s got himself into trouble falling in love with a doll! I like dancing Swanhilda because there’s a lot of acting. Swanhilda is pretending to be Coppelia, so you are playing two characters in one. Technically it’s also challenging, you have to move like a doll and there are a lot of mimes to remember, telling the audience the story.

The Nutcracker is always lovely to do…

Laura Bösenberg. Sugarplum Fairy. © Tatjana Meirelles
Laura Bösenberg. Sugarplum Fairy. © Tatjana Meirelles

It’s a Christmas ballet, so there’s a nice vibe. The Sugarplum Fairy is like the cliché of ballet, dressed up in pretty pink with a tiara…
On the 24th of December we do the Fairy Parade, the little kids come on stage to meet the ballerinas. Sometimes when you work so hard, you wonder if it’s all worth it. But when you see the little ones looking up at you, it’s really rewarding.

We’re rehearsing Sleeping Beauty at the moment…

Laura Bösenberg. Sleeping Beauty. © Tatjana Meirelles
Laura Bösenberg. Sleeping Beauty. © Tatjana Meirelles

The first time I played Aurora there were six different casts, and I was the sixth. I didn’t get a rehearsal on stage. It was scary dancing for the first time, but it went well and I enjoyed it. It’s technically a very exposing ballet: it is very traditional, very classical, you have to know exactly what you are doing. Everything has to be clean with very solid lines.
In the Rose Adagio there are four men partnering with Aurora. You have to hold your balance while each partner takes your hand, so it’s very challenging.

See Laura dance as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty at the Artscape.
September 2016.

Concept & Photography by Tatjana Meirelles
Hair & Makeup by Bernice Dodd
Styling by Alice Buckely
Assisted by Morgan Williams