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

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD POISE -

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.

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