Rob Vellosa, 37, physiotherapist for the Royal Ballet
You must be a huge ballet fan, right?
‘I’ve watched “Billy Elliot” a couple of times, but I’m not sure that qualifies me as a ballet expert. You learn a lot once you’re here, though, watching them rehearse. I have a new-found respect for the amount of work these guys do.’
What exactly do you do at the Royal Ballet?
‘As physios we guide the dancers’ overall rehab after an injury. We assess and diagnose, then we’ll do the initial treatment and come up with a plan of what to work on to get that dancer back to full health and fitness.’
What’s the most common injury you have to treat?
‘What we call “overuse injuries” from doing the same thing over and over, when muscles get tired and tight. Feet, ankles and calves are the biggest problem – particularly with the girls, whose shoes have a wooden block at the front so they can go right on to their tiptoes. If you or I put a pair of those on, we’d be in considerable pain quite quickly.’
How did you end up specialising in ballet?
‘I did a physiotherapy degree and spent nine years working for the NHS. After that I moved into private practice and then spoke to a colleague who was working for the Royal Ballet and said there was a potential post coming up.’
What’s been your career highlight?
‘Going on tour with the Royal Ballet in Japan. They’re massive ballet fans. There would be hundreds of people waving their programmes at us outside the stage door and asking us to sign autographs, even though we weren’t all dancers.’
This sounds like the best job ever.
‘Well, I get to work with world-leading specialists and elite performers, using facilities that are equivalent to those at the top Premier League football clubs.
I’m living the dream!’