Au­di­ences still love fa­mous bal­let

Havelock North Village Press - - News - BY LINDA HALL

Val Ca­ni­paroli was all smiles the morn­ing af­ter the open­ing of the Ry­man Health­care Sea­son of The Nutcracker by the Royal New Zealand Bal­let at Welling­ton’s Opera Hous.

The bal­let’s chore­og­ra­pher was happy with the dancers’ per­for­mance but he was most happy with the way the au­di­ence re­acted — they loved it.

“Of course there will al­ways be checks and lit­tle tweaks af­ter ev­ery per­for­mance but I thought ev­ery­thing went re­ally well.”

Ca­ni­paroli grew up in Seat­tle, and has al­ways been in­ter­ested in mu­sic, theatre and lit­er­a­ture. This is the fourth Nutcracker he has been in­volved with. He says au­di­ences these days are more for­giv­ing of bal­let.

“Re­mem­ber we don’t get hours of time on stage like theatre. There are so many mov­ing parts in a bal­let that I think the au­di­ence might not worry if there was a slight im­per­fec­tion on open­ing night.

“We also have to think about the fact that the dancers are learn­ing mul­ti­ple parts. They don’t just dance one char­ac­ter and that’s re­ally to keep them on their toes,” he laughs. “Es­pe­cially on big tours like this one, it would be quite bor­ing if they had to dance the same dance ev­ery time.

“There is no school to learn these things, you learn by do­ing,” he says about skills for the job.

“You have to make your own chances and do what­ever you can to make it work. I first chore­ographed at school then I got in­vited to the Pa­cific North­west Bal­let in Seat­tle. A light­bulb went on at that stage and I de­cided I wanted to dance. By this stage I was in my late teens, well maybe I might have even been 20 — I loved old movies and was mes­merised by Gene Kelly. I lied about my age when I started bal­let classes —IsaidI was 16. The com­pe­ti­tion was so high it was a dif­fi­cult route to go down but I did it.”

This is the first Nutcracker he has been in­volved with out­side the US. Each one is dif­fer­ent but he tries to stay true to ETA Hoff­mann’s Nutcracker orig­i­nal story. Ca­ni­paroli has danced The Nutcracker as Herr Drosselmeier and at 67 still dances for San Fran­cisco Bal­let as a prin­ci­pal char­ac­ter dancer.

“I can’t say that I com­pletely en­joy danc­ing now but it keeps me on the other side — be­ing bossed about and told what to do — it keeps me hon­est.”

He has trav­elled the world. “Some would kill to have what I have. I am never com­pla­cent though — I have to com­pete with the young so I can’t be,” he says. When not work­ing he loves to eat out, and movies.

The Nutcracker, Napier Mu­nic­i­pal Theatre, De­cem­ber 1.

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