Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ballet Now and Then

The Swan
~ Stephen Spender

The trumpets were curled away, the drum beat no more,
Only the Swan, the Swan, danced in my brain:
All night she spun; dropped, lifted again,
Arched and curved her arms; sunk on the frore
Snow-brittle feathers skirting her; reclined on hands
Buckling her waist, where the moon glanced.
How small her waist was, and the feet that danced!
Sometimes she bent back, and a breeze fanned
Her hair that touched the ground, and, shown
Between her Swan’s legs, feather and white down.


The Australian Ballet company celebrates its 50th birthday this year. The inaugural season began with a performance of Peggy van Praagh’s Swan Lake at Her Majesty's Theatre in Sydney in November 1962.  

It's a great national, cultural institution which represents us proudly on the international stage.  It gives me patriotic goosebumps.  Australian dancers and choreographers have a distinctive athletic style, I think, which lives up to our 'have a go', sporting stereotype and mirrors our expansive landscape with wide arcs of sky and earth.  Expressive and natural not too uptight and rigid.  Not too pumped and muscular either.

You can imagine my glee when we happened across an exhibition at the Victorian Arts Centre which showcased costumes and stories from performances over the past five decades.  My little ballerina loved posing near the mannequins.  The other two not much!   If only the AB would tour more to regional areas (hard to schedule and expensive I know) and show exhibitions like this in the national capital (or house them here permanently *sigh*). 



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