From the lion’s den to the pool
Two zookeepers are trading carnivores for cozzies as they prepare to perform a water ballet in this year’s Auckland Fringe festival.
Since September Ellie Stringer and Helen Watson have been training with Wet Hot Beauties, an Auckland water ballet company.
The all inclusive retro group was founded nine years ago by two women who were wanting to pursue synchronised swimming but told they were too old.
Watson and Stringer have joined the company for Sea Change, a water-based performance with 80 dancers that explores the role females play in today’s society by challenging the demands and expectations placed on them. Watson said joining the troupe came about when her and Stringer were looking for a new challenge after having swum the Auckland harbour to raise money for the endangered Sumatran tigers.
Embracing the glamour of water ballet has been a contrast from their day job as zookeepers working with carnivores, she said.
‘‘It’s a pretty nice opportunity for us, as you can imagine it’s a fairly heavy duty, unglamorous role that we work within.’’
Wet Hot Beauties aim to include women of all body types, which Watson said was positive given the image standards pushed upon women.
‘‘There’s women of all different ages, walks of life, every different shape and size and we all just get together and have so much fun and support each other,’’’ Watson said.
Stringer said neither her or Watson were natural dancers.
‘‘Everyone does make mistakes and you can laugh about how serious you’re being in each move because you’re trying to learn all these things.’’
The performance has been described as ’’synchronised wading’’ as opposed to synchronised swimming, she said. ’’If just one of you is off [time] it affects the look of the whole thing.’’ Watson said it’s all about being perfectly synchronised.
‘‘Even if we have nerves and even if we can’t see things coming together at this stage we just have to have to have faith in the people who are running it and the choreographer.’’
The Wet Hot Beauties perform Sea Change from February 21 to 26 at the Parnell Baths.
Auckland zookeepers Helen Watson and Ellie Stringer have found a new pastime in water ballet.