LA Bayadere (The Temple Dancer) assistant repetiteur Clytie Campbell believes dancers always like a technical challenge, which is fortunate for WA Ballet given the choreographic demands of Greg Horsman’s production.
“They are throwing themselves at it,” Campbell said,
“They love getting into different character so it’s not just about the technique, but also about being someone else and trying a character who might be completely different from your own personality.”
Campbell knows this from personal experience after 11 years as a dancer for Wellington’s Royal New Zealand Ballet (19 years performing altogether) where she is now the company’s ballet mistress and once worked with Horsman.
She is in Perth to oversee the staging of La Bayadere (The Temple Dancer) following the classical ballet’s season at Queensland Ballet, where Horsman is ballet master.
“I’ve never performed in La Bayadere; it is one of the big classics, it’s just not as widely performed outside Russia,” Campbell said.
“None of the companies I worked with during my career had it in their repertoire but as a student, as many do, I learnt The Kingdom of the Shades scene.”
Usually set in “an idea of India”, this restaging of the ballet has been modernised to India at the time of British rule where an agreement has been made by the Maharajah and Governor General for the arranged marriage of their children, Prince Solor and Edith.
“But Solor is in love with a temple dancer, a bayadere, and they’ve known each other since they were children,” Campbell said.
“The news of him marrying someone as part of the agreement does not go down particularly well for Solor.
“He’s in love, she dies, it’s tragic, he goes to the opium den where he has visions of her and then he has to face marrying this woman he doesn’t love. All the drama unfolds and it’s a massive role for him to tackle.”
Campbell, who was born in Auckland and trained at her mother’s ballet studio, said the challenge did not end there.
“The Kingdom of the Shades scene is one of the hardest corps de ballet numbers to perform for the ladies,” she said.
“The famous entrance is coming down these ramps doing a series of arabesques; the first dancer does around 35 arabesques as they snake around and all enter.
“The adage is very controlled and pure classical line so you have to get rid of your nerves. It’s exposed and has to be very precise.”
What: WA Ballet’s La Bayadere
Where: His Majesty’s Theatre
When: May 9 to 25