1. You're visiting Melbourne to perform an excerpt from Manon in The Australian Ballet's 50th-anniversary gala. As a principal dancer, with the American Ballet Theatre for 27 years, how do you psych yourself up for each new production?
Every new role presents challenges and rewards that develop and inspire. And roles that I have danced since the beginning of my career continue to interest me. The pursuit for ultimate clarity in movement and expression is a fascinating process.
2. What was the first ballet production you saw that encouraged you to commit to dance?
Ballet has always been part of my life. I remember my first steps on the stage and my first performance and it was the most exciting experience of my life.
3. When you were learning your craft as a dancer, how did you stay focused during the hard work?
I have always felt that my love for ballet was far greater than the discipline needed to excel. That love for my art has been the greatest motivation to pursue my goals.
4. Outside the world of ballet, who are your favourite dancers?
Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.
5. What do you think is the most dangerous trend in world dance at the moment?
In the film The Iron Lady, Meryl Streep, playing Margaret Thatcher, says: ''It used to be everyone wanted to do something. Now, everyone just wants to be something.'' I agree that now it seems the goal is to ''be something'', but I have always felt that the work - the investment of one's self in a noble pursuit and striving for excellence in the world - is the goal, as well as the true reward.
6. Your favourite movie and why?
The first movie that moved me and changed me was Breaker Morant. It had an impact on me that I will never forget. By complete coincidence, it's an Australian film!
The Australian Ballet 50th-anniversary gala runs from Wednesday to Saturday at the State Theatre, Arts Centre, and features guest performers from the Paris Opera Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, the National Ballet of China and the Tokyo Ballet.