What does ballet have in common with clogs, denim, leather and motorcycles? If you are a fan of La fille mal gardée, which has been performed since the late 1780s, the clogs may have given it away! From now until Sunday, The Canberra Theatre is playing host to the West Australian Ballet Company’s production of La fille mal gardée.
Lise loves Colas. Colas loves Lise. But Lise’s mother, the Widow Simone, has agreed that her wayward daughter should marry Alain, son of a pompous, wealthy vineyard owner. Alain however, is more interested in his precious umbrella than romance.
Before I begin to describe the incredible skill of the dancers, I have to rave about the amazing costumes. Lexi De Silva is responsible for the incredible dresses that the ballerinas wore. She has expertly put together a 1950s inspired wardrobe for these remarkable dancers. The only negative I can find is that when the production is finished, they will go into storage! Not that I would ever fit into any of these tiny outfits, but wouldn’t it be lovely to dream about owning one of these beautiful creations… Excuse me for a moment while I too dance as gracefully as these ballerinas in those exquisite costumes – only in my imagination of course!
If you love fashion and have a curiosity about ballet, this performance is a must. But seriously, who can go past a James Dean inspired lead? Or a man who convincingly portrays an old lady and manages to make dancing in clogs look easy! The story is very easy to follow and incorporates a lot of elements of modern dance, including a fun tap sequence that can’t help but make you smile. The female dancers in particular, took my breath away. They made everything look so effortless and you have to wonder if their feet even touched the floor.
Perhaps what I enjoyed most about the evening, was being able to chat to the dancers after the performance. This was the first time I’d been invited to have drinks with the dancers after the performance. I had a lovely chat with soloist Daniel Roberts, who was kind enough to tell me about his career as a dancer and his experiences dancing for different companies. He was incredibly knowledgeable and I learnt a lot about what happens to the sets and costumes after the production is finished, as well as all the preparation that goes into putting these productions on. Alexandra Stewart, another dancer with WA Ballet, filled me in on how they make the leap from being a ballet student to becoming a professional ballerina. I hadn’t really put thought into it before. I suppose I just assumed that they were plucked from their various ballet schools and given places in various companies. Unfortunately not. They need to fund their own travels around the world, auditioning for various companies. Such a huge financial commitment in the hopes of finding a job. At least if I want a job overseas, it usually just involves an interview over Skype. While Alexandra loved dancing for The Bavarian State Ballet, she is glad to be back home in Australia where she is much closer to her family.
You may not be aware that the Western Australian Ballet is the oldest ballet company in Australia and have recently been able to expand their company to nearly 40 dancers, as a result of their recent move into their new home which underwent a $12million refurbishment in order to accommodate them. Given that the WA ballet company is one of the only companies that will travel to Canberra, I am so happy – a larger company gives them more freedom to put on a greater range of productions. So far they have managed to come to Canberra three times in the last seven years, keeping true to their aim of coming to Canberra at least once every two years. My fingers are crossed that they will bring their next production, Snow White, to Canberra next year because I’d love to take my daughter (who is just a tad bit obsessed with ballerinas at the moment).
La fille mal gardée is currently at The Canberra Theatre, but be quick if you’d like tickets as it finishes this weekend!