The decision to leave my job as wardrobe assistant at the ballet was a little nerve wracking. If I'm being perfectly honest, it wasn't so much the leaving there that saddened or scared me, but the uncertainty of not knowing what lies around the corner. Although that said, my decision was made much much easier having a strong hand to hold along the way (thanks Rich), and certain personal goals and achievements in mind. Even so, being a creature of habit, three busy years with a company is a lot to let go of, so many memories made! The hilarious moments of lost sanity during rehearsals, the stress inducing get ins and get outs, the brilliantly fun times secretly trying on all of the costumes and hats (the bigger and sparklier the better!), the never ending repairs, the awful tour food and accommodation resulting in living off snickers and jelly (sorry Japan, I am light years away from being brave enough to go local)- so many thoughts, some just amazing and will last forever, others I hope to forget quickly! But over all a satisfying feeling having developed my sewing (and people) skills, worked backstage on some seriously beautiful productions and made some friends I will love eternally.
You gotta do what you gotta do... It is tradition, in the world of ballet and theatre, to embarrass yourself as much as possible during your final performance, quite often taking part some how in the show itself... On stage. And I am not one to break tradition, in fact I'm so applause hungry that I have par-taken in two on stage appearances now. When my dearest and most awesome partner in crime Gill waved goodbye to life as a wardrobe assistant, I accompanied her, as her peasant wife no less, into the lime light. We totally stole the show, Gillian in her top hat and fat suit and yours truly nearly taking out half of the dancers with a skirt waaaay too long! Ah good times!
As a result of sharing Gill's on stage performance I genuinely thought I had escaped further humiliation... How foolish of me. I was tag teamed; my fellow wardrobe ladies suited me up (pink tights and all), and my hair and make up was done by the one and only Marion Tait, legend of the ballet world. Having THE Marion Tait attend my make up and hair sealed the deal- I was going on!
The final performance of the season, and my final performance working with the company, and what a show to go out on- Giselle. If you've never seen a ballet (do it!!!) but want to dip your toe in the water, then a production like Giselle is perfect. One of my favourite shows I have worked on and seen (from the wings). The story is tragic and romantic- the perfect combination in any piece of dance! The music is sweet with just the right amount of drama and suspense, the scenery is simple yet atmospheric with the moody lighting and smoke. The costumes for Giselle are just gorgeous. Beautiful floaty dresses, delicate hues, a washy watercolour of movement complimenting the choreography wonderfully.
As you can probably guess from the name, Giselle is a French piece dating back to 1841, adapted from a Heinrich Heine poem about heartache and loss. This tragic story is set in a sleepy village, around our heroine Giselle, a delicate flower of a girl, suffering a weakness of the heart. She falls in love with a handsome villager who wins her affections, despite hiding his noble birth and being betrothed to the princess. Of course, she discovers his engagement and is humiliated and heart broken- cue seriously emotional scene of devastation and desperation, a crazed Giselle throws herself across the stage in a turbulent whirlwind, resulting in her death at the end of act 1.
Upon mourning dear Giselle, the young man responsible stumbles into a spooky forest haunted by the spirits of jilted women 'The Wilis'. Led by their merciless queen, the wilis lure foolish men deep into the forest and make them dance till their death, as revenge for these women once scorned. Romantic Giselle forgives him, and the power of her love saves this man from the magic of the wilis, and Giselle dances with the prince one last time- until sunrise, when he is safe. As the first rays of light break through the trees, the spirit of Giselle is released unto heaven. CUE ME- Ballet pose extraordinaire!! Velcro'd to a pole and lifted to the lofty heights of heaven aka the lighting rig above the stage. Curtain down, and applause. (For the real Giselle of course, not the 5 ft stunt double trying not to fall off the platform).
The Marion Tait treatment:
Getting into character before the show:
And of course, one with the girls, go wilis!:
So much fun and a real great memory to treasure, what a way to end my time with these guys.
And as I washed off the glitter, I stepped out of the lights and into reality... And a brand new chapter of my own story.
Are you a ballet or theatre fan? Have you seen anything great lately or are you planning to delve into the dramatic arts soon? I look forward to experiencing the view from the auditorium, rather than in the wings!