Barry Drummond, 26, is appearing in English National Ballet’s Nutcracker at the London Coliseum over Christmas. In 2008 he won the Lyn Seymour award for the most expressive dancer and in 2012 he was nominated for the Emerging Dancer award.

How did you get into ballet? I’m from Callander in Scotland. I started ballet there at 12. After also attending supplement classes at Scottish Ballet’s Associate programme I moved to London to accept a place at The Royal Ballet Upper School when I was 16. After three years there I accepted a contract with English National Ballet in 2010. I’ve been dancing with the company for seven years now. They appointed me First Dancer last year.
It must be a tremendously energetic life. How do you keep well? A good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast are non-negotiable for me. Beyond that I time when and what I eat carefully through the day to make sure I have enough energy for the performances.
How do you keep your work fresh? Doing lots of performances in a row can be tough. Mental and physical fatigue are potentially challenging. However, once the curtain has come down on a performance, I can reflect and be glad to be doing a job I love. My favourite moments as a professional dancer have been during performances that were particularly special, because they were a great challenge or they were of a work I had dreamed of dancing for a long time. And I’ve also had many wonderful experiences working with choreographers in the creation of new work which I find stimulating. I always end up learning an enormous amount which can only benefit my career.
Why is Nutcracker so special? It’s is a very busy time of year for English National Ballet and all the dancers learn multiple roles. Some of the parts I dance are Freddie, The Poet, Spanish Dance and Lead Flowers. The Tchaikovsky score creates the most magical atmosphere. I think that, along with beautiful dancing and festive cheer will always make for a fantastic night at the theatre which is why it’s so popular. It works well because of the ambience it triggers in the theatre and I think lots of people come wanting something really festive – which is what they get.
What have been the highlights of your career so far? Dancing the Neapolitan Dance in Frederick Ashton’s Swan Lake and in William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elated at Sadler’s Wells in 2015.
How does dance differ from other performance arts? I believe ballet has a refinement and a grace which is obtained only through years of rigorous training and that separates it from most other performance disciplines. I would encourage anyone to start ballet because I think it teaches you a lot of transferable skills, like discipline and team work and it’s also fun. Anyone thinking of pursuing it professionally needs to be prepared for a lot of hard work. A good tip is to watch as much dance a possible. Learning from watching experienced dancers is both useful and inspiring.
Are we doing enough to attract boys to ballet? I think we’ll always be able to do more to encourage boys to start ballet, but I’m glad to see lots of ballet companies running workshops aimed at children and young adults including boys. Let’s hope these initiatives lead to some of them going on to be professionals.
English National Ballet’s Nutcracker is at London Coliseum from 13 December to 06 January. It will also run at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton from 29 November to 02 December.