Tag Archives: Central Dance Company

Our Sojourn At Swan Lake.

“Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.”

– Hans Christian Andersen

On Saturday, we were lined up in our seats anxiously waiting for the curtain to rise. Our daughter was performing in Swan Lake & Beyond with the Central Dance Company at the Wyong Art House, North of Sydney. Not only that, she was going to be a swan and I couldn’t wait to see her appear like an apparition in that voluminous white tutu elegantly flapping her wings across the stage.

There is such an absolute silence…that pregnant pause… just before the curtain rises which seemingly lasts for eternity. We, the audience, is waiting in suspended animation, while anything could be happening behind the curtain. Like a bolt of lightening, the curtain rises and an explosion of colour, movement and sound grips our senses. We’re not on Swan Lake yet. Rather, the opening number is  called Hooked on Tchaikovsky.  The music reminded me of a cassette we used to have: Hooked On Classics. Those of you of a certain age, might recall it. Otherwise, just  think of fast-paced classics. I don’t know what to say about the dancing, except that I was wowed and I remember actively trying to expand my perception to take it all in, as I’m better at focusing in on a detail than absorbing the entire scene.

Amelia Swan Lake Waltz

Our daughter in Swan Lake Act 1 Waltz of the Swans.

Keeping track of our daughter during the opening number was difficult. Given their hairstyles and costumes were identical, all the dancers almost looked the same, and unless your dancer is extremely tall or short, it was down to hair colour. I always find my daughter has an identical twin in these performances and I forever mix them up. Once I spot her, that’s it. I have to keep my eyes fixed and I can’t even blink just in case I lose her. That’s why I’ve booked myself in to watch all three shoes. I figured I’d only be watching our daughter for the first show, and could then take in more of the bigger picture for shows two and three. After all, I do want to see the show in all its glory and not only through my blinkered, crazed-Mum-vision. Besides, the third show will also be at a different venue and I don’t want to miss whatever that means and that show will also be the finale. Besides, I know I’m not fooling anyone. We all know I’m a parent tragic gazing longingly up at our daughter as though she’s the star in the night sky. However, I make no apologies for that. Every performer needs their greatest fans. It’s not easy getting up on stage with a million and one things on your mind and having to hold it together on the pointe of your shoe. You need to know someone believes in you, especially when you’re pushing through into so many new frontiers, which are all deliriously exciting but equally terrifying and formidable.

“He had danced with fair maidens before, but Odette was different. She was graceful and beautiful, but there was something in her eyes and in the things she said, an intelligence and a boldness that belied her quiet demeanor.”
― Melanie Dickerson, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

However, this is not a review of the show or even our daughter’s performance within. I know professional critics do it all the time. However, I haven’t yet mastered the ability to condense something so mind-blowingly spectacular into a handful of words. I make no apologies for that. After all, Swan Lake is silent. There are no words at all. Yet, even as a wordsmith, I didn’t even notice they were missing because the movements and expressions of the dancers along with Tchaikovsky’s incredible music said it all. I was transfixed.

Yet, within all of the movement and the spectacular music, there was our daughter. Finally, almost at the end of the show, she appeared from left stage in her white tutu and she was a swan. You’d think I would’ve etched those moments into my retina forever so I could just pull up a seat and play it again Sam over and over again. However, I was also dazzled by the performances of the featured artists. There was Rebecca Petty as Odette and Cieran Edinger as Siegfried and I would have fallen deeply into their intoxicating love story if it hadn’t been for the diabolical Von Rothbart (played by Gary Bowles) who kept tearing them apart. Gary played this dastardly villain hauntingly well and  had me shaking in my shoes, even though I’ve met him quite a few times at rehearsals.

Amelia and Rowena

After the show with our daughter.

However, all too soon, the performance was over and we were left at Stage Door holding our flowers waiting for our daughter to appear. This reminded me of waiting at Arrivals at the International Airport where you’re waiting for this person you haven’t seen for a very long time to appear. However, there’s this dribble of people coming through and you’re waiting and waiting. When they finally appear, there’s almost an explosion of emotion. That uncurtailed excitement! No doubt that weary traveller was not unlike our petite ballerina who just wanted to get to bed and rest her feet. Well, she did have a her tales to tell and agreed to a few photographs, which wasn’t going to be a given. It wasn’t quite “Go straight to be, directly to bed. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.00”.

As we were driving home, I could almost shed a sigh of relief. The first two shows were done and dusted, and there’d barely been a ripple in the pond. Indeed, we were floating along on swan lake.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I hope to get a photo of our daughter in her Swan Lake tutu soon.

Weekend Coffee Share 30th September, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share.

If we were having coffee this week, I’d be showing you some beautiful photos of my swan. You see, our daughter performed in Swan Lake & More with the Central Dance Company on Saturday and in all seriousness, I wish I could just bathe in that magnificent music and gaze at that dancing forever. It was magic. Well, not pure magic because they’ve been rehearsing every Sunday for five months. There’s also been a few injuries, not to mention the usual aching feet. Ballet is legalized torture, especially for the feet.

Amelia Swan Lake Waltz

Our daughter dancing in Swan Lake Act 1: The Waltz.

The night before her performance, I wrote a post capturing all those anticipatory emotions and thoughts including a photographic tour of her ballet journey so far from when she started out at four to where she is now at 13, a year after she stepped into her first pair of pointe shoes.

I have also been transformed by her journey. Not just as a bystander. I’ve also done some adult classes myself. There’s been ballet, lyrical, contemporary and tap. I’ve learned so much through these classes and have made the transition from being a taxi-driving dance mum to becoming a dancer myself both in terms of physical capability and in spirit. I’ve also watched a lot of dance to and find myself observing ballet type poses out in nature in how a dying flower might bow its head and wilt or how a towering tree raises its branches up into the sky.

Anyway, she still has one more performance to go. Otherwise, my mood would be a lot more sombre.

Meanwhile, yesterday I sat in on a script writing meeting with the Gang Show looking at generating material for next year’s show. That was quite interesting because I have quite strong views about promoting and maintaining Australian culture and fighting back against the tide of American culture. These aren’t always shared so I have to keep a lid on it. However, that doesn’t stop me from voicing my opinion here. I also feel our days of excluding our Indigenous Aboriginal people from our popular culture are gone. However, if we don’t have any Aboriginal people in the Gang Show, that’s pretty difficult to do. We can’t have someone dress up and pretend. We just have to leave it out. It was also interesting talking about our contemporary world and incorporating some of that into the show.

Aside from a poor excuse for a play I wrote back at uni, I haven’t done any script writing before. So, writing these skits is new ground. Moreover, I’ve never been in Guides or Scouts and my only understanding of the movement is limited to my observations as a parent. However, although writing these skits is going to be challenging, I’m determined to give it a shot. See what I’m made of. I’ve been working on some concepts today and they’re coming together surprisingly well. I’ll keep you posted.

Last week, I drove over to Terrigal for a hair cut and explored the beach afterward. Terrigal is 88kms North of Sydney and really is a beautiful spot. While our beach is less built up and developed, Terrigal has it’s stunning honeycomb cliffs and memories of going there for holidays throughout my childhood back when we didn’t know the dangers of coating ourselves in coconut oil and getting fried under the harsh Australian sun. I also remember almost drifting out to sea with my brother on these inflatable lilo things. It was a simpler world back then. Well, at least it was for me.

The kids started school holidays today. Next week, my husband and son will be heading up to Bathurst for the Bathurst 1000, a 1,000-kilometre touring car race held annually on the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. It is currently run as a championship event for Supercars. They can’t wait and will be camping out there with Geoff’s sister and her son along with their friends. It was all too much for me and I’m staying home with our daughter who will be performing in a dance production.

Anyway, I’d better keep moving and finalise dinner. I had a crazy idea of making an apple pie and while I’ve had assistance with the apples, it still has a way to go.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

One More Sleep for Our Swan…

“Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in

is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an

eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing, I

have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my

spirit soar and become one with everything that exists.”

Michael Jackson

Tomorrow, our daughter takes to the stage in Swan Lake Act II and as her greatest fan, I absolutely can’t wait. She will be performing with the Central Dance Company where professional dancers fill the lead roles while the youth form the corps de ballet. This gives the young dancers a taste of what it’s like to be in a professional ballet company and step out beyond the walls of their own studios. Moreover, it also provides additional hours of expert teaching, and improvement simply through the sheer number of hours of rehearsal. If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, you’ll know all about that magic 10,000 hours of practice which lifts you out of mediocrity into the meteoric heavens.

“Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all

obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of

inviting the perfection desired.”

― Martha Graham

 

However, there are some downsides to pushing yourself to the max and beyond. Not unsurprisingly when you push your body so far, there’s that omnipresent risk of injury.  There’s also a fine line between pursuing your passion and giving it everything you’ve got, and flying straight into the candle flame and burning up. Just ask the moth.

Yet, in pursuing a career as a professional ballerina, staying upright on top of that pointe shoe is about the only kind of balance available. Ultimately, as in any other demanding field, you sink or swim. However, the extremes are far more intense and burn out can be psychologically and physically destructive, which was almost portrayed too well in the movie Black Swan.

“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

If you have seen Black Swan, you well might ask why I signed our daughter up for ballet. Why would I put her through all of that, when she could have followed her previous dream of becoming an astrophysicist?

DSC_0643

Our daughter at her first ballet concert aged 4.

The truth is that as a parent, I don’t really have a lot of say in all of this. All I did was book her into a local ballet class when she was three turning four. The earth didn’t quiver and shake as she disappeared with her teacher and the other kids behind the closed door, although I do remember wanting to go in there and see what was going on. We even have the concert video from that very first year of ballet, and while she was very cute up on stage in her tutu, she wasn’t extraordinary. She even made mistakes.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo

If we fast-forward to when she was about 10, she was very unwell and also couldn’t seem to get to class or would get there with one or both shoes missing and her hair all tangled up in a veritable bird’s nest. However, despite these outward appearances, her teacher and I still managed to see the dancer within, just like Michaelangelo saw his angel in that lump of stone. It was hard to spot, but she was there. It was also thanks to a few of her friends who took her under their wing, that she was able to catch up for the end of year concert. I’m still not sure how things turned around. However, it was like a switch had been turned on. Or, she’d been struck by some kind of cosmic lightning. A passion for dance was ignighted, and she’s never turned back. She absolutely loves dance to an extent where it goes far beyond just being her thing to somehow becoming part of her being.

“Hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon.”
Edward Lear

Every time I see my daughter dance, I celebrate this progression from struggling to hold her fingers in a diamond shape above her head, to the young woman who is now en pointe and learning the cygnet routine from Swan Lake. There’s a lot of pride in that, but also an acknowledgment of the sheer hard work we’ve all put in right down to driving her to classes and rehearsals, and almost piercing my fingers and drawing blood sewing ribbons and elastics on shoes. Our swan didn’t just fall out of a box of cereal and land on her feet.

Pointe Shoe Fitting

Getting her first pointe shoes was such a special day.

On a more personal note, seeing our daughter dance in Swan Lake in a beautiful white tutu is like a precursor of seeing what she would be like walking down the aisle on her wedding day. Naturally, I remember our wedding day. I was so happy my face was aching and I loved getting all dressed up in my absolutely beautiful dress and in a sense being the swan for the day. However, since our daughter’s arrival, I’ve had my moments of playing the dying swan. On too many occasions, I’ve been living it as I battle along with dermatomyositis and associated lung fibrosis. It is impossible to describe what it’s like as a seriously ill mum to face leaving your young children behind and you’ll never be waiting for them at the school gate again. Indeed, to be very honest, we didn’t think I was going to make it this far. Yet, despite time being my enemy, I’ve actually improved quite a lot overall and am strangely doing okay. However, that doesn’t mean that when it comes to seeing my daughter all dressed up as a white swan, that I’m not going to make the most of that. Carpe diem seize the day. This memory will be etched into my retinas and in my heart. After all, before she became my swan, she always was and still remains my girl. My family are my greatest treasures.

Rowena & Amelia Coastquest

Dance Mum and daughter

It is very easy to get caught up in the hoopla of dance. Being a Dance Mom and allowing your love and pride for your own child, overtake all sense of reason and perspective. Our daughter takes part in eisteddfods and of course, I think she’s the best and I felt a bit devastated when she doesn’t place. “You got rocks in your head?!!!” Of course, I don’t say anything and we talk it up. However, it’s important to keep all of this dance stuff in perspective and what really matters to me, is that my kids are decent people. That they stop and help others, don’t set out to win at all costs and are good losers. Of course, I’d love them to be happy, but I’m more of a realist and simply hope they get through life’s up and downs relatively unscathed and can keep smiling.

Above: When our daughter performs in Swan Lake, she’ll dip her toe into the very same pond traversed by the likes of Anna Pavlova (who even had her own pet swan) and Dame Margot Fonteyn.

In a sense, we have been very lucky that the dance school we attend encourages teamwork and kindness. I just took her down to the local dance school and didn’t shop around or ask for advice. Our choice was all based on convenience. However, our dance school actively promotes supportive and encouraging friendships and the parents are friendly and help each other out. Indeed, we’ve been sharing lifts back and forth to rehearsals for Swan Lake and we’ve got to know each other better. It’s been great. I don’t think we’d have stuck with dance if our studio had been anything like what you see in Dance Moms. Values come first.

“You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams. And I know

if I can make you smile by jumping over a couple of couches or running

through a rainstorm, then I’ll be very glad to be a song and dance man.”

Gene Kelly

Reading back through all of this, I realized that I haven’t really touched on what dance does for the spirit and how it can create that all-encompassing joie de vivre or even a sense of absolute peace. I have been doing some adult classes and really only dipping my toe into dance, but I have also had a taste of the magic which inspires my daughter. It’s electric.

So, we now only have one more sleep until our daughter becomes a swan whatever that entails. However, I know that for me, it will be pure magic.

Best wishes,

Rowena