Love a bit of romance and theatrical magic? Get ready to be whisked away by the enchanting world of Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands, coming to Birmingham Hippodrome in February. We caught up with rising ballet star, Megan Ferguson, currently on tour with the production.
Megan Ferguson is in the midst of the Edward Scissorhand’s stint at The Lowry in Manchester. She’s taken time out of her demanding training session to chat, and when we meet she’s the epitome of casual elegance in black joggers, a snug sweater and ballet warmer booties. Her fresh, clean face hints at the anticipation of the magical metamorphosis awaiting her – the makeup, wig and costume transformation set to unfold after our interview.
Her journey into the world of professional dance began at an early age. “I have danced all my life,” she says. “I started dancing when I was really young, a little girl, and I moved to London when I was 16 to join Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. In my third year, I joined the production of Matthew Bourne’s Romeo & Juliet. They were recruiting a young cast consisting of local dancers for each venue, and that is how I ended up joining them for a week. That opened my way to the Company and since then I’ve done Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and now Edward.”
Behind the Curtain
A day in the life of a dancer at Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures is a whirlwind of activity. Megan explains: “When we are on tour, we come in and do a class in the morning, that will be followed by note sessions where a director gives notes to the cast about changes, improvements, etc; and then we go into wigs, makeup, another quick warm up before the show and then off to perform.”
“When we have two shows we do exactly the same before the first show and then we have a big break to have dinner and do other stuff, and then get back into make-up. Sometimes as a different character, so you need a completely different set up of makeup and wig – and then we do the evening show.
“I also have a few songs I like to listen to. This might not be a strong ritual as others may have, but when I am at the makeup session, I have certain songs that I listen to last thing that I choose depending on the character I am playing, to get me into the character’s mood.”
For Megan, playing a part in Edward Scissorhands is an exhilarating experience. “Oh my goodness, it is the most fun show ever! If you see the show, you will see so many different characters telling a completely different journey and story in every scene. Characters develop different relationships between them. Also, most of us play two or three different roles, some of which are a complete contrast between them. The variety of characters that we play keeps the show fresh and makes it really enjoyable.”
As a dancer, Megan emphasises the importance of mastering the art of breathing. “An essential thing to conquer is mastering the art of breathing while dancing. This is crucial for us and often goes unnoticed. When we take the stage, the tendency to hold our breath that many of us have affects the fluidity and grace of our movements. Holding our breath not only disrupts the flow of movements but also affects our ability to convey emotions through body language and facial expressions. To achieve this, I focus on conscious and intentional breathing for every move I take on stage.”
And her advice for upcoming dancers is to trust themselves and enjoy the performance: “I would tell them to trust themselves in the process and relax. It is important to enjoy performing to stand out because we all can follow a choreography and do the steps. If you trust yourself, the rest will come up naturally.”
Ever wondered what essentials a professional dancer carries? Megan spills the beans: “I do like a different scent or perfume for each character I play to help me get into the character and remind me of that. Another ‘must’ would be my water, we drink plenty of water when we dance. And I would probably say Berocca or an energy drink.”
From Fan to Performer
Her journey has come full circle, from being a fan of Matthew Bourne’s productions at the Birmingham Hippodrome to now gracing its stage. “Joining Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures has always been my dream since I was a child. I used to come to the Hippodrome with my mom to see their shows. The journey was about 45 minutes away, but it was worth it because the theatre is so beautiful, and I think it plays well with all these types of theatrical dance productions. I will always remember when I went to see The Red Shoes there with my mom and fell in love with the show.”
As I wrap up our chat, I can’t help but ask Megan about her favourite dance style when not performing professionally. “I just like a little bit of hip-hop,” she laughs, revealing her go-to style. And will we get to see a hint of hip-hop in Edward Scissorhands? “Actually, yes … potentially!”