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WA Ballet: Open Friday

Carol Flavell Neist

West Australian Ballet allows the public into the performance studio on a Friday morning to watch the company begin their day.
WA Ballet: Open Friday

Image of Western Australian Ballet' Company Class in rehearsal.

Every four weeks, the West Australian Ballet allows the public into the performance studio on a Friday morning to watch company class, and I went along for the first time today with a group of other senior citizens.

What a superb bunch! (I refer to the dancers, not the senior cits, although they were very nice, too!) Under the watchful eye of Ballet Master Cédric Ygnace the dancers pliéd, battemented and developéd their way through a strenuous barre, centre practice and allegro. I found my feet and hands responding to Ygnace's instructions and my heart wishing I were 50 years younger!

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The company is preparing for their season of The Great Gatsby, choreographed by David Nixon OBE. This is not the first time Gatsby has been turned into a ballet: there have been at least two other versions in the last few years. Jimmy Orante created one for Ballet Met in 2009, and only a year later, The Washington Ballet presented their version at the Kennedy Centre. This is a story that will not lie down – it has been made into a radio play, an opera, a film and TV play. It has also inspired a brace of computer games. Ygnace’s version, first performed by the Northern Ballet in 2013, boasts a score by Richard Rodney Bennett and set designs by Jerome Kaplan. In addition to his workload as director of Northern Ballet, Nixon himself created the scenario and costume designs for Gatsby.

The company is obviously used to having morning class invaded by the public. It was ‘business as usual’ with the participants ignoring the audience and carrying on with the usual doings of dancers – breaking in new pointe shoes, stepping out of class to rub sore muscles, and occasionally leaning on the wall to rest while waiting their turn to present an enchainment.

The company’s final season for the year will be Peter Pan, which goes up on 17 November and runs until 10 December. There are three more Open Fridays left in this year, on Friday 29 September, Friday 3 November and Friday 1 December – I can think of no better way to stay abreast of our local company and its doings, and to learn about or stay in touch with the world of ballet.

4 stars out of 5

Open Friday
Western Australian Ballet

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author


Carol Flavell Neist has written reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Dance Australia, Music Maker, ArtsWest and Scoop. She was reviews editor for the now defunct Specusphere magazine and, writing as Satima Flavell, has also published poetry and fantasy fiction.

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