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Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Tanya MacNaughton

WA Bal­let prin­ci­pal Brooke Wid­dis­onJa­cobs was told moth­er­hood would make her a bet­ter dancer and she could not agree more since re­turn­ing to the com­pany af­ter her daugh­ter Emilia was born.

“The lit­tle things that used to stress you out on stage and in the stu­dio aren’t so big any­more be­cause you have other things that are big­ger in your life,” Wid­di­son-Ja­cobs said.

“I was re­ally ea­ger to get back on stage and I have a fan­tas­tic sup­port net­work; it wouldn’t be pos­si­ble with­out my hus­band Jesse and fam­ily who help out a lot, es­pe­cially dur­ing per­for­mance sea­sons.

“It was def­i­nitely al­ways my plan to re­turn and it’s also quite mag­i­cal for Emilia (now 14 months old) to have a mum who dances and to be in the theatre and run­ning around in the stu­dios.”

The 33-year-old dancer re­turned in time to be Cin­derella in the fi­nal WA Bal­let sea­son of 2015 and con­tin­ues the ‘magic’ as Beauty in David Nixon’s Beauty and the Beast.

“I al­ways love to dance a bal­let where I get to be­come an­other per­son, an­other char­ac­ter, as op­posed to just do­ing steps on stage,” she said.

“I think as you get older as a dancer, just danc­ing steps isn’t as in­ter­est­ing; I want more out of it.

“I want to chal­lenge my­self in a dif­fer­ent way and find ways of ex­press­ing dif­fer­ent things. I think that’s def­i­nitely what I love most about this bal­let.”

Wid­di­son-Ja­cobs said her thoughts im­me­di­ately went to the Dis­ney ver­sion when she heard Beauty and the Beast had been in­cluded in this year’s pro­gram.

She soon re­alised Nixon’s ver­sion, cre­ated in 2011 for North­ern Bal­let in Leeds, was some­what darker.

“The story is more or less the same, where Beauty falls in love with the ugly Beast, breaks the spell and he turns into her Prince Charm­ing,” Wid­dis­onJa­cobs said.

“It has a darker as­pect and there’s a lit­tle un­der­ly­ing part that per­haps only adult au­di­ence mem­bers would get, in that Beauty is quite at­tracted to the Beast in the end.

“I guess her sex­u­al­ity comes across and his too as the Beast, which I think prob­a­bly goes over the head of the younger au­di­ence, which is good.

“There is this as­pect that she does re­ally like him and wants him to like her; she finds it quite flat­ter­ing that this Beast has taken an in­ter­est in her.”

Wid­di­son-Ja­cobs said her role had been tough in the be­gin­ning.

“To get the steps in your head, be on the right count, in the right place and think about the char­ac­ter is al­ways a lot,” she said.

“But as the weeks are go­ing on, the steps are more in the body now and we start to re­ally work on the char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion, which I love; to re­ally be­come Beauty.”

Prin­ci­pals Brooke Wid­dis­onJa­cobs (Beauty) and Matt Lehmann (Beast). Pic­ture: Marie Nirme.

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