WA Ballet principal Brooke Widdison-Jacobs was told motherhood would make her a better dancer and she could not agree more since returning to the company after her daughter Emilia was born.
“The little things that used to stress you out on stage and in the studio aren’t so big anymore because you have other things that are bigger in your life,” Widdison-Jacobs said.
“I was really eager to get back on stage and I have a fantastic support network; it wouldn’t be possible without my husband Jesse and family who help out a lot, especially during performance seasons.
“It was definitely always my plan to return and it’s also quite magical for Emilia (now 14 months old) to have a mum who dances and to be in the theatre and running around in the studios.”
The 33-year-old dancer returned in time to be Cinderella in the final WA Ballet season of 2015 and continues the ‘magic’ as Beauty in David Nixon’s Beauty and the Beast.
“I always love to dance a ballet where I get to become another person, another character, as opposed to just doing steps on stage,” she said.
“I think as you get older as a dancer, just dancing steps isn’t as interesting; I want more out of it.
“I want to challenge myself in a different way and find ways of expressing different things. I think that’s definitely what I love most about this ballet.”
Widdison-Jacobs said her thoughts immediately went to the Disney version when she heard Beauty and the Beast had been included in this year’s program.
She soon realised Nixon’s version, created in 2011 for Northern Ballet in Leeds, was somewhat darker.
“The story is more or less the same, where Beauty falls in love with the ugly Beast, breaks the spell and he turns into her Prince Charming,” Widdison-Jacobs said.
“It has a darker aspect and there’s a little underlying part that perhaps only adult audience members would get, in that Beauty is quite attracted to the Beast in the end.
“I guess her sexuality comes across, and his too as the Beast, which I think probably goes over the head of the younger audience, which is good.
“There is this aspect that she does really like him and wants him to like her; she finds it quite flattering that this Beast has taken an interest in her.”
Widdison-Jacobs said her role had been tough in the beginning.
“To get the steps in your head, be on the right count, in the right place and think about the character is always a lot,” she said.
“But as the weeks are going on, the steps are more in the body now and we start to really work on the characterisation, which I love; to really become Beauty.”
What: WA Ballet’s Beauty and the Beast
Where: His Majesty’s Theatre
When: May 13 to 28