Diary of A Dancer with Sharni Spencer

The Australian Ballet dancer reveals her 'Alice in Wonderland' routine

We go behind the scenes of The Australian Ballet with Sharni Spencer, the Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards nominee who has just finished playing the titular role in Alice in Wonderland

7am I wake myself up with a homemade latte on my De’Longhi machine and have eggs on toast for breakfast with my husband, Michael, who’s a structural engineer.

9am I head straight to The Australian Ballet centre at Southbank, Melbourne, for my morning Pilates class. I’m always better for it – Pilates really warms me up for the day.

11am We have a 75-minute ballet class six days a week. It’s our time to practise and prepare for rehearsals. I’ve just finished playing the lead role of Alice in Alice in Wonderland and have Sylvia and The Nutcracker coming up.


12:15pm A 15-minute break to have a snack before we head into rehearsals all afternoon.

12:30pm On performance days, we rehearse for 2.5 hours each afternoon. For the most part I really enjoy rehearsals – except for the hamstring exercises. I hate a hamstring curl.

3pm Time for a late lunch. On show days, I’ll have a good meal like rice and fish, so I don’t feel heavy for the performance but still have a lot of energy.

5pm I like to be at the theatre quite early to get into my flow. I do my own make-up and get into character. For Alice, I wore a wig, which I loved because it helped me embody the character.

6:30pm A pre-show warm-up.

7:15pm I get the 15-minute call and head to side-stage. I always feel a mix of anticipation, excitement and nerves before I step onstage. I meditate and try to clear my mind to calm my nerves.

7:30pm When the curtains open, it’s a surreal feeling. For Alice, I was onstage for almost 2.5 hours straight! I ran on pure adrenaline.


10pm I come offstage exhausted but buzzing. It’s a euphoric feeling of satisfaction and relief. After my last Alice in Wonderland show, I got really emotional. I had tears in my eyes; it was very bittersweet.

11pm After winding down with the cast (which usually involves taking off my make-up and sitting around laughing about costume malfunctions), I head home. My husband usually makes me vegie pasta for dinner.

1am After being on such a high after a show, it takes me a while to switch off. I binge-watch Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and have a cup of tea before heading to bed around 2am. I’m a very good sleeper.

Vote for Sharni in the Telstra Ballet Awards at

This article originally appeared in the October issue of marie claire.

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