swan lake ballet

 

Ballet wasn’t my thing as a kid. I did a few lessons, apparently, but I don’t remember going. My ballroom dancing years came later and I enjoyed those. In contrast, ballet felt prescriptive, disciplined – tough. Not that ballroom isn’t, but to stick with ballet requires a special kind of determination I obviously don’t have.

I love the music, though. See this CD?

Cd
The FDB stands for ‘Fair Dinkum Bargains’, a discount store that used to be open in town and made full use of the slang branding that was big in the 80s and early 90s. The price almost equalled my weekly allowance (with a bit left over for sweets), and I would buy ‘hits of’ classical composers in order to familiarise myself with their music. I’ve kept this Tchaikovsky for over twenty years. The most played track? The final one: “Swan Lake – Finale”.

That was the ballet I wanted to see, if I ever went.

A few months ago, I discovered a new production of Swan Lake was being put on by the Australian Ballet. I was rather late in buying tickets and it was hard to get four seats together. Were the kids too young? I dismissed that thought. They’d be fine.

I don’t have many photos of the evening. It was a drizzly night; the tops of the Rialto building and Eureka Skydeck were obscured by low-hanging clouds. We clomped through sidewalk holes filled with water to arrive at the theatre with little children everywhere and Arthur Boyd paintings on the wall (you can see one behind us here).

At the ballet

The doors opened and I had a moment of vertiginous horror when I saw how high up we were. Two tickets were $132 and it turned out these were right over the railing, the other two $70 tickets were immediately next to those. (Really, I’d advise to save the money and get the cheaper seats, if possible. The view is the same.) The kids were delighted with the view (so was I, once I got used to it) and we settled in for the performance.    
 
Since I know nothing about ballet, I can’t comment with any knowledge, let alone authority, about what we saw. I noticed the male dancers, especially in Act 1, had trouble at times staying in unison. But maybe that’s not a big deal? Riley got wriggly by the start of Act 11 and I thought, ‘oh boy, here we go’.  
 
Then Odette, played by Robyn Hendricks, came on. She was wonderful. The moment she unexpectedly first meets Prince Siegfried, she skitters backwards a few steps while fanning her arms, and the action was so perfect I thought, ‘Now I get it.’ I sat forward to pay closer attention, understanding why people were shouting out compliments admit the applause after the conclusion of a dance. I won’t spoil the plot if you’re unfamiliar with the story, but I had a few tears in my eyes at the end. As it happened, we were there on a fortunate occasion, as we saw Hendricks be appointed as principal artist at curtain call. (It made the news.) Here she is again.

Last time on the lake tonight. A photo posted by rahendricks (@rahendricks) on

 

Here, because it’s so great, is the black swan’s famous 32 fouettes (filmed in 2011). As the two characters Odette/Odile are typically performed by the same dancer, you can see why it’s considered one of the biggest challenges in ballet.

ENB – Black Swan – 32 Fouettes from Blaine Brothers on Vimeo.

 

I’ve been playing that CD all day. The kids have tried to replicate those fouettes in the lounge room (I’m surprised there are no broken bones yet), Adam said the music reminded him of Star Wars (he’s not the first who’s seen the connection) and so we’ve all taken something away from the experience! I’d call that a success.

 

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Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity (October, 2017).