Saturday, June 29, 2013


Last night I hurried into the State Theatre night to see Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake performed by The Australian Ballet and basically floated out.

I go to the ballet a couple of times a year and every single time I am transported.  I imagine eras when the ballet, theatre and opera were the social playgrounds of the aristocracy who would arrive in their furs and dripping with diamonds.  They would have names like Heston and Marguerite and sip martinis in red-velveted foyers.

There is so much respect in ballet - for the theatre with its ornate beauty; for the dancers who are just utterly breathtaking; for the orchestra (I love how they stamp their feet to set off the crowd's applause when the conductor takes his or her place); and for each other as audience members (I have never heard a mobile phone go off during a performance).

This contemporary version of Swan Lake is one of the most stunning ballets I have ever seen. The dancers make it look just so effortless, but anyone who has tried to lift a chubby kid further than their waist can imagine how hard they must have to work to make it look so easy.

I was reminded to visit the Behind Ballet blog and stumbled across these beautiful short films made by The Apiary.

As I was tinkering around the blog and clicking on random links I read one piece of info that tugged on my sensitive heart.

Yesterday, Friday 28 June 2013, was my first night-at-the-ballet for 2013.  It was also the five year anniversary of the death of great Russian ballerina Irina Baronova who I worked with eight years ago as a very young book publicist.  I adored her - she was one of the most intoxicating people I have ever met and her face pops into my mind at the most random times.  I can still hear her voice.

The year I met her, 2005, was the year I went to my first ballet.  I have been hooked ever since.

I'll never forget visiting her Byron Bay home and being slightly confused as she bent right down in front of me, trying to focus her failing eyesight on my feet.  When I confirmed that they were indeed a little 37 she excitedly went to her cupboard pulling out pair after pair of vintage Ferragamos and piling them into my arms.  She could no longer wear them and was going to throw them out if I didn't take them, she said.

I love having physical reminders of such a beautiful woman and a legendary artist.  I've been thinking of Swan Lake this morning and remembering Amber Scott's pirouettes but imagining dear Irina's young face spinning around instead.

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