CHRISSY BROOKE

Chrissy Brooke is a British Dancer/Actress/Model based in London, England. After studying at Laine Theatre Arts and The Young Dancers Academy she has gone on to dance in productions such as ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ at London’s West End and also on tour in the hit show ‘Wicked’. 

Flawed Magazine: So you left home at 10, that is a very young age, what was the reason behind that?

Chrissy Brooke: Basically the area that I am from is quite rough and there wasn’t a lot going for me there. I remember always looking at the clock just thinking when can I get dancing; my brother was also getting bullied at school because he danced so when we got offered a scholarship in a school in Brighton after attending a summer school there, we took it. When I Was 12 I moved to London and my brother went to Ballet school in Birmingham, I was on my own so I moved in with this family. It was literally just to dance. I never saw myself doing anything else, I just wasn’t focused in school, it’s not like I’m stupid because things that I want to be good at I will be good at; but I was just staring at the clock counting down the minutes until I could dance again, it was all I ever wanted to do.

FM: So basically you just followed your passion and fulfilled your dream; that was a big step.

CB: Yeah exactly, it’s lovely, my mum was so supportive, she was just like ‘go and do what you want to do’ even at such a young age, I mean looking back now it was crazy! I do feel like I lost out in a lot of things though, I weren’t around when my granny died of cancer and I missed watching my sister turn from a child to a woman, amongst other things. It was really weird, people would ask do I go home to see my friends and I would be like ‘I don’t really have any friends at home’, I mean I am easy going and I get along with a lot of people but I was at the age where everything was here.  

FM: So do you still believe that all of this was 100% the right option for you or do you regret it?

CB: I got to a point where, so I started college when I was 16 and one of the girls that I went to dance school with when I was really young in Newcastle started as well and I felt like, not that I gave up stuff but I did kind of give up the innocent childhood. I was walking around on the tube alone when I was 12 years old; that care freeness of being a child I did sacrifice, through my own doing, but it was kind of a sacrifice as we still ended up in the same place. After that I thought I could have stayed at home with my mum and probably saved myself a lot of money and loneliness, because I did have quite a lonely childhood, especially when I was a teenager. But actually, now I think I know so many people from the move to London and I’m so open minded and without all of this I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today, I’m very independent, by the time I was 16 I was living completely on my own plus in the end I got to go to ballet school down here so I guess that has made me very technical and without it I may not have got the jobs that I have got if I stayed in Newcastle.

FM: So it’s just swings and roundabouts, there are always pro’s and con’s to everything, just like general life.

CB: Exactly, there is no point thinking what if I done that because you did what you did and that was the right path, the one that you chose, you can’t change it.

FM: What was it like growing up having your parents so far away at such a young age?

CB: I can’t remember the boarding house part of it too much because that was literally when I was like 10 but when I moved to London to live with a family that was a bit weird. The mum would always make remarks, like there was this one girl in my ballet school, let’s call her Sarah, and she would say things like ‘Oh Sarah’s thighs have got a bit big, Oh she’s overdeveloped’ and like when I came back from over Christmas she would be like ‘Oh Chrissy, your looking big babe’ and to say that to a child of that age, its disgusting. If I was sick or had a bad tummy she would ask if I made myself throw up and she would kind of encourage it, it was so bizarre. It made me quite depressed and sad for a lot of my teenage life, like most girls that age are going out having fun, getting their first boyfriend, where I was just becoming so self-conscious. She was so skinny that even sitting next to her I just felt so disgusting, it really was a terrible time and that’s when my friend Katie came to live with us, we formed this great bond but the Lady kicked us out so we got separated. Katie went to live with another girl and I went to live with another family in Shepherd’s Bush and I babysat their kids so that I could stay there without paying, I was probably about 16 at this point, It was all just so strange.

FM: What are your views on dance teachers pushing kids to be skinnier, do you feel it Is overstepping the mark as they should be teaching the kids how to dance not how to lose weight and especially not encouraging it as once again they are only children, from first hand experience how did you cope with it and what would say to anyone that is trying to cope with it?

CB: I think it is hard, I work with so many girls at dance school, I remember this one beautiful girl, she was so talented but she had to give up dance as she now associates it with an eating disorder, it’s such a shame and to be honest that’s why I stayed away from ballet. It is hard though, especially with kids, once they are in that mindset it is so hard to get them out of it, so many teenage girls go through it and it is so unnecessary. It could have been ingrained into me but I literally love food, exercise as well so I think that is why I am okay, but I mean the woman that I lived with, this eating disorder was her issue, it wasn’t about any of the kids, it was her own problem and it is terrible that it stayed with her so long. Through living with her my stomach actually would shrink, I remember eating a few tomatoes one day and I was crying because I was full but there was nothing I could do. It was awful. I feel like they should talk to the kids about it, make it more of a talkable subject; in those kinds of schools, ballet schools, it is all swept under the rug. Dance teachers do make it worse at times, like this girl, she was a wonderful dancer and the teacher favoured her, she was like ‘oh everyone do it like her, she looks beautiful’ and we were all like oh Shit, she looks like a piece of paper, maybe we should all do the same.

FM: At that young age you’re very impressionable so whatever you see you are going to try and copy. It is a shame that it has happened within some schools, it is meant to be a passion and something you enjoy. 

CB: Yeah definitely, but there are so many people that will carry on with dance but they have been pushed into it. There was this woman that I knew and her daughter never enjoyed ballet, or any type of dance to be honest. She went to so many different schools but she didn’t enjoy any of them because it wasn’t for her. Her mum was pushing it on her because it was a dream that she never fulfilled, it’s so cliché, there are so many dance films like that, ‘it’s not my dream it is yours’ but it is so true, so many women do it and I think it is so sad because you are never going to watch someone and no matter how technical they are if they don’t have the joy for it in their soul your never going to feel anything and that’s what it is all about…

FM: Exactly, at the end of the day it’s best to do what makes you happy.

CB: Exactly, I have finally got to the point where, whether I am working or not, like whether I am doing an amazing show or whether I am just standing on the street giving out flyers, which sometimes every performer does, I am still probably on the same happiness level. It’s nice to be able to think whether I get this job, obviously I am going to be so grateful but it’s not going to affect my overall state of mind if I don’t, it took me a while to get to that stage though

FM: So you have performed in Wicked and Phantom Of The Opera, but there must be a lot of rejection when applying for all of these jobs that so many people want, how do you deal with that?

CB: I think it is just about being realistic. I know what I can do and I know what I am good at and I know that I am not right for certain things, you just have to not take it to heart. Also if you love it so much then don’t give up, I mean I will be one of those old ladies that are still dancing in pineapple or dance workshops, you know, one of those bat shit crazy ladies because I love it…I have to do it, I think that if that’s you and you want to do it, you will, I don’t think there is any doubt about it.

FM: So do you think if someone just enjoys it they may have a better chance, as technicality can always be taught and added to but they can’t add to the passion in your eyes, the enjoyment, so you just say give it your all and enjoy it?

CB: Yeah, just work hard, if you do know your downfall, work on it. I always performed wonderfully on stage, but I was always withheld within an audition room because the mirror is so close to you, there are so many people analysing you that I felt a bit self-conscious, so I would just try and dance for myself just like I would on stage and I know it is a bit of a cliché but I will try and dance like no one is watching, I just think of it as another time that I get to dance. Everyone seems to be really hard on themselves and you could get really down and lonely doing this. I have been there, along with many of my friends and once you get into that down state it is so hard to get yourself back. My best friend Katie did West Side Story, which is amazing and then she was out of a job for ages, more than a year probably, she was so down, going out all the time she got into that spiral, luckily she pulled herself out of it and she is in Aladdin now, she has just started so that is amazing. Her agent didn’t even get her the audition, she went to the open audition in Birmingham, no she went to the one in London and got cut so then she went again in Birmingham and now she has the part. It just shows that sometimes they can scan over you and it just shows, if you want it that bad, just f’ing do it!

FM:  So once you get in that downward spiral it is hard to get out, how do you make sure that you don’t get into it in the first place?

CB: I mean I still have my down day, I’m only human, but I think it is best to look at little therapeutic things; I like to go to dance class or go to yoga to make myself feel good about myself. Even like writing a diary, silly things because normally you over analyse everything so much, now when I come out of an audition I just let it go over my head, it is done, if I get it great, if not then I just wasn’t right, but I do know how hard it is to do that, sometimes you feel like actually I was better than that girl and she got through, but, what you going to do…

FB: But that’s the tough thing about casting, you need to have the right look to portray a certain character in their vision so it is out of your hands, all you can do is your best.

CB: Exactly, it can be like she was just one inch taller and blonde; it can be silly things like that.

FM: Lastly, you said how you feel you sacrificed a lot for your work and so you felt it had to be good enough to make up for it, do you still believe this?

CB: I just feel like it has been forgotten really, yeah there was a time when I was worried and so anxious that I wouldn’t do what I had trained to do since I was practically born, I mean all the precious family time that I missed as a child, maybe that was all for nothing. Now though, I feel like I don’t really need to prove myself to anyone, my Mum just says do what you love, as long as you are happy that is all that matters, so I don’t know why I got in that mindset, I guess I was just a bit of a harsh critic towards myself. Obviously we all have dreams and stuff, but as long as it makes me happy that’s fine, as long as I can afford to still go to dance class and I’m still dancing I don’t mind, if amazing jobs come with it then great, but it’s not like a thing where I am going to get myself down again because there is so much more to life.

FM: You said we all have dreams, do you think its maybe easier for you to achieve your dreams by not putting too much pressure on yourself and just enjoying the moment?

CB: Probably, yeah, because after I came out of Wicked I did have quite a few auditions and I was getting cut straight away and I remember thinking I have these two amazing shows on my CV, I feel like I am doing good in the auditions, what’s missing. I thought about it some more and then thought that after being in a show for two years maybe I got a bit too relaxed and lost the passion for it and now actually, the last few auditions I have had, that I know are right for me, I just go in and dance for myself, as sometime people notice that.
"If amazing jobs come with it then great, but it's not a thing where I am going to get myself down again because there is so much more to life"
Chrissy Brooke
Interview with: Chrissy Brooke - Instagram

Interview and photography: Harry Bigsby-Thompson - Instagram

Location: London, England ​​
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