A question of taste - Alan Foley

Alan Foley is the artistic director of Cork City Ballet, and also runs the Alan Foley Academy of Dance. He is directing the forthcoming production of Giselle at Cork Opera House, from November 10-12.

A question of taste - Alan Foley

Best recent book you’ve read:

I, Maya Plisetskaya — the legendary Bolshoi ballerina’s memoirs help to explain some of the paradoxes her life embraced, while they shed light on an even greater enigma: the Soviet Union’s curious relationship with its artists.

Best recent film:

Florence Foster Jenkins. There are great lessons in that movie for everyone: ie, follow your dream, just do it, and Meryl Streep’s final line in the movie ‘…they might say I can’t sing, but they can never say I didn’t sing.’

Best recent show/exhibition/gig you’ve seen:

New York City Ballet performing Swan Lake at The Met. There was a huge cast of swans in the corps de ballet and the choreography was so clever and mathematic. It’s such a privilege to be able to travel and see world-class ballet, on a regular basis, with my job.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately:

I’m a big Phil Collins fan and I never tire of his music.

First-ever piece of music or art, or film, that really moved you:

The Bridges of Madison County. I thought the acting was sublime and the film really showed the ‘sliding doors’ of life and how, in an instant, everything can change…or not!

The best ballet you’ve ever seen outside of Cork:

Manon, presented by the Royal Ballet, in Covent Garden, London. With stunning choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan and a magnificent score by Massenet, this visually breath-taking ballet is my all-time favourite. I’ve been lucky enough to see many companies, all over the world, dance it, from American Ballet Theatre, at the Met in New York, to the Mariinsky Ballet Company in St Petersburg, Russia.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

Since I stopped dancing professionally, I rediscovered TV again and now I spend many a happy evening on the couch in front of the box. I love Downton Abbey and I’m also a big fan of Keeping Up Appearances, with Hyacinth Bucket. The recent showing of Smalltown, with Pat Shortt, was wonderful, with incredible acting from all involved, and, of course, I love anything to do with David Attenborough.

Radio listening and/or podcasts:

I tune in to Neil Prendeville on Red FM to catch up with what’s going on in the city. And Liz Nolan on Lyric FM.

You’re curating your dream show — what three stars are involved, living or dead?

Sylvie Guillem — prima ballerina — Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra.

Your best celebrity encounter:

I’m afraid I’m not a big fan of the celebrity culture, but I did meet Princess Diana once, at a ballet event in the Coliseum in London, shortly before her death. She’s someone I really admired, so it was nice to meet her.

Best animal encounter:

Riding a camel in Tunisia. It was the most uncomfortable (animal) experience of my life, but what a great laugh it was getting on and off the camel. Being a ballet dancer, I tried to dismount gracefully, but pride came before the fall and I went head first into the sand.

Favourite-ever item of clothing:

Rover boots I bought in Stockholm many years ago. I bought seven pairs of them and I have two left — which I still wear. I love them!

Unsung hero — individual, organisation, or group you think don’t get the profile/praise they deserve:

Caitriona Twomey and her team at Cork Penny Dinners. They do amazing work.

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