Brooke Widdison-Jacobs gets in to character for WA Ballet’s The Great Gatsby


Brooke Widdison-Jacobs, Gakuro Matsui, Chihiro Nomura, Oliver Edwardson and Matthew Lehmann. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Brooke Widdison-Jacobs, Gakuro Matsui, Chihiro Nomura, Oliver Edwardson and Matthew Lehmann. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

CHARACTERISATION is proving key as WA Ballet works with Canadian choreographer David Nixon on his interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby.

Nixon has returned to Perth following last year’s season of his work Beauty and the Beast and the company’s dancers are enjoying the creative reunion.

The Great Gatsby is a fantastic ballet, it’s very enjoyable for all of the dancers and it’s been great to have David back in the studio,” principal dancer Brooke Widdison-Jacobs said.

“He works very hard on the characterisation and all the steps actually mean something. You’re not just pointing your foot and turning around, it actually has an intention behind it and that’s really interesting as a dancer to start asking ‘Who am I and what am I trying to say and convey?’”

Although Widdison-Jacobs had not seen the ballet before it was programmed in the company’s 2017 season, she had studied it at school and watched the film.

“I’ve since watched the film again to refresh my memory,” she said.

“The 1920s were a fantastic era and I think I would have liked to have been around them to experience all the glitz and glamour and money and party scene.

“The book translates incredibly well and David has studied the book and the film in such detail that there are lots of sections in the ballet that are completely recognisable, right down to Daisy seeing birds in the sky and all the tiny little things the audience might not realise.”

Widdison-Jacobs said she had been challenged by her role as Daisy’s friend Jordan Baker which took her in a different direction.

“It’s a bit of an unusual role for me in that she’s very athletic and a tom boy which doesn’t come so naturally to me,” the mother of one said.

“I think the biggest challenge in any ballet is getting the character right, so portraying Jordan Baker like she should be and not just how I would do it.

“She’s very nonchalant about things but at the same time I think she is still intrigued by what’s going on and likes to play around a bit.

“And she is a golfer so she wears these big wide pants which is very different to the dresses of that era and what I’m used to.”

WA Symphony Orchestra will join WA Ballet, performing composer Richard Rodney Bennett’s cinematic score that included The Charleston, tango and percussion.

“I think audiences will just love The Great Gatsby,” Widdison-Jacobs said.

“It’s a great story, there are beautiful pas de deuxs, there’s a lot of fun in the party scenes that lift the ballet and give a sense of enjoyment for everyone but there’s also a darker side,” she said.

“I think there’s something for everyone.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: The Great Gatsby

Where: His Majesty’s Theatre

When: September 14 to 30

Tickets: www.ticketek.com.au