Angelina Ballerina, performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, will be making a stopover at Port Macquarie’s Glasshouse in January.
Hi Catherine. Give us a bit of your background as a ballet dancer and the companies you’ve danced with?
I was born in South Africa, but I moved to Australia when I was 15 to train at the Australian Ballet school. From there, I got into the Australian Ballet Company, and I danced there with them for 6 years, until I moved to New Zealand in 2006 and became a member of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. I danced with them for five years, before retiring at the end of last year.
What’s your role with Angelina Ballerina – and what does it involve?
I will be making sure that the ballet is taught correctly. Basically, I am the Rehearsal Director, having been retired now for about ten months. I am out of the performing role and more in the rehearsal/ballet mistress role. I will be taking the dancers for their daily dance class, making sure that the shoes run smoothly and correctly. I may also make some impromptu performances on stage if any dancers are injured.
The production itself – how much time, effort and energy has gone into creating the show?
The show is originally a ballet that was performed by the English National Ballet in the UK. Choreographed by Antony Dawson, they have performed the ballet in the UK and other places – perhaps even Australia before. So the Royal New Zealand Ballet have bought the rights to the ballet, and we are now performing it. We are learning the ballet and we are starting rehearsals soon; it will be quite an intense three-week rehearsal period. Antony Dawson comes in for the last week, just to ensure that I have taught the ballet correctly and have the essence right. Then we start off by opening at the Sydney Opera House on December 19.
If you had to sum up the story of Angelina Ballerina, what would you say it’s about?
Angelina is an aspiring ballerina; she has dreams of becoming a professional dancer, and this particular production starts off with her at her local ballet school. She gets an invitation to audition for the Camembert Academy. So she goes along to the Camembert Academy and she auditions along with a couple of other dancing mice who perform in their various styles of dance. There is an Irish dancing mouse, a disco dancing mouse and a Spanish dancing mouse, a modern expressive dancing mouse – who dances with a lump of cheese! Basically, without giving the story away, she does get a little closer to her dream of becoming a true ballerina.
How many cast and crew are involved in the production?
There are ten dancers; seven girls and three boys. With the crew there is Stage Manager, an Assistant Stage Manager, a head mec, a head electrician and wardrobe master. It is quite a small touring group.
Describe the music and the dance moves; is it a technically challenging ballet?
It is based on various classical ballets and you will recognise the music, as there is a lot of Nutcracker in it, and lots of Tchaikovsky. The dancers do find it challenging, as they are dancing with mouse heads and mouse tails on, which are not too heavy but are still quite weighty and having to perform solos – such as for Angelina, who has to perform the sugar plum fairy solo. It can be challenging. The actual performance schedule is quite gruelling, as we are performing up to three shows a day in most centres; although it is a short ballet – I believe it is 50 mins plus an interval.
What’s your favourite part of the ballet – and why?
I really like the diverts in the second Act, really just because they have a bit of personality to them and I think how Antony Dawson has interpreted the traditional classical ballet Nutcracker music has been quite quirky and funny. I think it really shows a whole spectrum of dance styles, not just classical ballet, which is great.
How far and wide are you touring Australia?
We start off in Sydney, then we spend a couple of days in Port Macquarie. From there we go to Brisbane, and then Adelaide and Melbourne and then to Canberra – so it is a fairly comprehensive tour. And then following on from that, there is a tour around New Zealand during March and April.
Catherine Eddy – Ballet Mistress.