WA Ballet making The Nutcracker a Perth Christmas tradition

Jayne Smeulders and Sandy Delasalle-Scannella. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.
Jayne Smeulders and Sandy Delasalle-Scannella. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.

FORMER WA Ballet principal dancer Jayne Smeulders may have retired from professional performance at the end of the company’s Beauty and the Beast season in May but she is busier than ever.

“I’m running around, getting lots of phone calls asking for teaching and coaching,” Smeulders said.

“And getting to do lots more family stuff; I saw Cooper (seven-year old son and youngest of three) get his merit certificate, which was great.”

Smeulders said she hung up her tutu mid year because her body was starting to hurt, thankful it has taken her on a longer career than many dancers.

“You can’t be a dancer half-heartedly, particularly a principal dancer; you have to be 100 per cent and that was the type of dancer I always wanted to be,” she said.

“There was just part of my mind that decided I’d done enough and it was time to step back and do other things.

“I was the Evil Fairy for my last performance, so a nice strong role right up my alley.

“I had a really good show with an auditorium full of my friends and family, I felt supported by the company and my fellow dancers and there were a few happy tears; happy to be finished because I was done and had a career much more than I ever thought I would.”

Ballet mistress Sandy Delasalle-Scannella said she was glad Smeulders had kept busy and said it was the only way to cope after a lifetime of the adrenaline rush dancing provided, putting demands both on the body and mind.

“It’s what you are used to,” Delasalle-Scannella said, speaking from personal experience.

“You find other ways to keep busy: teaching people and getting involved in choreography.”

Smeulders has done just that by joining Delasalle-Scannella and her husband, WA Ballet artistic director Aurelien Scannella, to choreograph a new production of The Nutcracker at His Majesty’s Theatre from November 18 to December 11.

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Smeulders choreographed the company’s production of Cinderella in 2011 and is happy to be one of three sets of eyes working on The Nutcracker.

“I’ve had people question if it’s been hard this time but it’s been great because we all have the same mutual desire for this production to be the best it can possibly be,” she said.

French-born Delasalle-Scannella said she hoped the production would become a big tradition, as it was in Europe.

“Since Perth hasn’t had an original The Nutcracker for a long time, it was time to make one,” she said.

“We’ve been working on it in our heads for over a year, so it’s a relief to finally let it out and see it.”

The pair said it was a ballet suitable for all ages that had everything in it, from the magic of Christmas to technically outstanding dancing, lots of laughs and even a few rats.


What: WA Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Where: His Majesty’s Theatre

When: November 18 to December 11

Tickets: www.ticketek.com.au