Awesome Festival dances with WA Ballet’s Peter and the Wolf

Nathan Claridge as the Wolf.
Nathan Claridge as the Wolf.

PETER and the Wolf as part of this year’s Awesome Festival program is a creative match made in heaven.

Not only does the 35-minute free production fit the festival’s criteria of presenting high-calibre dancers but it also fulfils WA Ballet artistic director Aurelien Scannella’s wish to make the first ballet for children in the company’s 67-year history.

To do this he enlisted the skill of South African-born dancer, educator and choreographer Andreis Weidemann who has lived in Perth since 2009, working as a lecturer at WAAPA and teaching adult ballet classes in the WA Ballet community program.

“I know there will be lots of people saying it’s a great thing to expose kids to the art form when they’re young and can nurture a love for it, but none of that matters if it’s not a very good production,” Weidemann said.

“We’re not trying to make some grand statement, we just want to give them a really great half hour of ballet and open their eyes to a good story.

“Kids can come along and have a really authentic ballet experience in a format which has been absolutely designed for their enjoyment.

“If you make it specifically for them, and it’s a good show, then there’s no reason they wouldn’t love to come to the theatre or to the ballet when they’re a little bit older.”

Lucy Schoeman as the Bird and Nathan Claridge as the Wolf.

Originally created in 1936 by Sergei Prokofiev as a symphonic fairytale for children, Peter and the Wolf follows the story of young boy Peter living with his grandmother who warns him about wolves in the meadow.

“As a story it continues the tradition of Little Red Riding Hood,” Weidemann said.

“The original piece was written to introduce kids to the instruments in an orchestra so it really is very economically composed. It’s beautiful music that’s rhythmical and has a lot of humour.

“There is no superfluous music and we were never short of ideas when the dancers and I were choreographing it. It’s quite theatrical and there is a fair amount of slapstick in it.

“Our brief was for three to six year olds but what we’ve ended up making is an all-ages production. It’s that kind of Disney model where it’s made for little ones but the adults love it too.”

Featuring a cast of WA Ballet’s young artists and corps de ballet, Perth and the Wolf will have a season of six free performances in the Perth Cultural Centre with audiences using the amphitheatre seating.

Shows start at 11am on October 5 and October 7 to 11. WA Ballet teaching artists will hold free dance activities directly after each performance.

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