Ballet under stars beckons
It’s the season for packing a picnic basket and heading for Maynardville to enjoy an evening of dance, music and nature
character role of Kostchei.
Recalling early perfor mances since 1974, Mackintosh says, “Bad weather conditions every March made performing hazardous. It was often cold and windy, berries and dew fell on the stage, and the dancers had to slip in and out of outsized slippers in the wooded wings so as not to carry dust or dirt onto the stage. I remember picking up my ballerinas off the floor after slipping and falling. Fortunately, we never had any major injuries and we were only rained off once.”
Orchestral accompaniment was later replaced with recorded music to avoid the gradual disappearance of musicians until only the pianist remained as the weather deteriorated.
Former Capab and Cape Town City Ballet members Owen Murray and Andrew Warth recall a hilarious Swan Lake moment involving Eduard Greyling as the prince.
“In David’s (Poole) characteristically dramatic production, Odette, the lead swan, gets in the way of a sword fight between the prince and Von Rothbart and dies. Distressed, the prince is supposed to stab himself and die over her but Eduard couldn’t find the dagger so he decided to throttle himself instead,” says Murray.
Despite the hazards of performing at Maynardville, its beautiful setting and non-discriminatory audience policy at the time encouraged Poole to continue staging ballet there until the Nico Malan Theatre followed suit. This season’s Les Sylphides is a recreation of the late Cecily Robinson’s production of the Fokine work. The ballet is plotless, but features sylphs in white romantic tutus dancing in the moonlight with a poet to Chopin’s memorable score.
Laura Bosenberg, Angela Hansford, Megan Swart, Janine Laidlow, Melanie Seeger and Lauren Rogers will dance the challenging solos, while Robin van Wyk and Thomas Thorne will dance the poet’s role.
“It’s a huge challenge to perform this ballet now,” says Mackintosh.
“The style is forward and dancers of today want to dance pulled up and back. It’s also hard for the man, especially on the legs because of the sustained movements danced into the ground.”
Les Sylphides was first perfor med by Olga Preobrajenska, Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky under the title Reverie Romantique: Ballet sur la musique de Chopin in St Petersburg, Russia, early in the 20th century.
It was staged for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in the format known today and premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, in 1909.
Pavlova, Karsavina, Nijinsky and Alexandra Baldina were cast in that performance.
The Maynardville Open-Air Theatre is in Maynardville Park, Wynberg. The Sunday performances end on February 21. Ticket prices range from R90-R100. For more information, email info@capetown cityballet.org.za
IDYLLIC: Megan Swart floats gracefully through the air against the wooded backdrop of Maynardville.