Australian Ballet’s Amber Scott Shares Her Most Challenging Role—and the One That Taught Her Most About Herself

July 31, 2023

Amber Scott has been a principal artist at The Australian Ballet since 2011. Her career highlights include dancing Odette/Odile with Adam Bull in Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake and partnering with guest artists David Hallberg, Robert Tewsley, and Damian Smith. She’s also a mom, with two daughters with her husband Ty King-Wall, a former company principal who now serves as Australian Ballet’s Dancers’ Director. Scott talked with Pointe about her life as a dancer, from the perfection we see onstage to its not-so-glamorous side.

What do you enjoy more: performing or being in the studio?

Always the stage. The nerves beforehand can be brutal, but the elation of performing makes you forget that somehow. In later years I have definitely come to appreciate the studio hours more than I did as a keen but impatient younger dancer. The luxury of time and space to develop a role is something I now truly value.

Who do you admire in dance, and why?

I look up to the first dancers of The Australian Ballet, from back in 1962. It’s The Australian Ballet’s 60th anniversary this year, and it has been an opportunity to listen to many stories and reflections from that generation of pioneering artists. Ai-Gul Gaisina, a former principal, spoke to us all earlier this year and explained that in the early days of the company, the dancers didn’t have much in terms of facilities or support, “But we loved it!” This is what drives you as a dancer, your enduring love for the art form.

Have you had a worst nightmare onstage?

Yes—I somehow wore a leotard backwards after a quick change for a very sensual pas de deux that ended up being extremely awkward to dance and to watch! But it did make for a great laugh afterwards. 

Do you find freedom or pressure in creating new roles?

The process is intense with a new creation. Everything is challenged—your mind, your body—but there is nothing like dancing something that has been made just for you.

Amber Scott stands on pointe and kicks her right foot behind her as she leans slightly forward onto her left shoe and caresses her face with her right hand. She wears a black leotard and white tutu.
Photo courtesy The Australian Ballet.

What would you take with you to a desert island?

My family.

What is your party trick?

I can make a pretty good teddy bear birthday cake now!

What’s the least glamorous part of being a dancer?

Toenail conditions.

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?

It would probably be in health or education. Someone who helps people heal or learn.

Of your repertoire, which ballet was hardest to learn and perform?

Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I adore this work and dancing Alice was a career highlight. It was an enormous task to learn the choreography and master the many technical elements that make the show so brilliant. Every show was the biggest adrenaline rush!

What role taught you the most about yourself as a dancer?

Manon. I found the immersion into this character’s world to be the most transformative and deeply fulfilling experience. I had the opportunity to tell a great ballet story and to follow my instincts. Manon also has some of my favorite pas de deux, full of intimacy, trust, and daring.

What advice would you have for students wanting to be professional dancers?

Patience. Watch as much as you can in person. Ask questions. Don’t be easily satisfied, but be gentle on yourself. Nourish and respect your body.