The house lights dim, a hush falls over the burbling audience, a spotlight falls upon the conductor as the heavy red curtain at the Arts Centre – replete with lyrebird flourish – pulls open to reveal a living tableau of ballet dancers. Tutus in peacock blue glitter against the stagelights, and strains of Tchaikovsky begin as the picture comes to life.
A night at the ballet – like a night at the opera – is a special occasion. One to dress up for, most certainly, to tuck away in your memory for meditation. Modern interpretation of classical art forms is necessary to bring centuries-old traditions living and breathing into our time. But a sweet place lies for classical art forms presented faithfully their original iterations – particularly so when it comes to ballet. On Friday evening, I attended the beautiful Imperial Suite by the Australian Ballet – a selection of two classic ballets – Ballet Imperial circa 1941 by George Balanchine and Suite En Blanc circa 1943 by Serge Lifar. With tutus a-plenty, point shoes and tiaras assured, a sense of occasion came upon the Arts Centre. Something special was about to begin.
The Arts Centre is so unabashedly opulent, heady with a sense of 1980’s gluttony and a celebration of culture channeled through brash golden bronzes and plush red velvets. I feel is strike the right sense of importance to its visitors as they’re ushered into the liminal space where drama and magic begins. I remember coming here with my parents as a little girl, how cavernous and special the State Theatre seemed to me (it still does, to be honest) as we saw light operetta, big show musicals and ballets in the 90’s. I remember Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat particularly – I’m sure the stagelights around Tina Arena wowed me.
Wearing: Micky In The Van ‘Voice of Hope’ skirt, Forever New leotard, Ralph Lauren pearls.
Supporting this special presentation of two classic ballets, the Australian Ballet commissioned Melbourne artist Eirian Chapman to create images reflecting the style of Ballet Imperial and Suite En Blanc.
I wanted to honor the dancers and sheer beauty of a night at the Australian Ballet by dressing in a beautiful floral ballskirt from Micky In The Van, along with pearl necklace, Marie-Antoinette cameo earrings and big, BIG hair. My style inspiration was Dangerous Liaisons starring a lascivious John Malkovich and Glenn Close, when more jewellery meant MORE, waists were tiny-tiny, bosoms were a-heaving and skirts trailed behind fair mademoiselles. I think this level of decoration in fashion is just right for occasions where drama and artifice are being celebrated. Leave normcore at the door.
My favorite ballet of the evening was Suite En Blanc, where a quiet delicacy of movement was reflected in soft movements of hands, quiet pointing of satin-bound toes and the teeniest, weeniest ballerinas in white tutus inclining their heads like doves.
The finale of Balanchine’s lavish Ballet Imperial, rich with solo performances and beautiful corps de ballet floating on stage.
A night at the ballet is a fine occasion to have on your calendar. Truly, visions of sugarplums DID dance in my head as a dropped into a sweet reverie of dreams people by ballerinas. To make your own date at the Australia Ballet, visit their website to see their upcoming season of performances. Hold me closer, tiny dancer – indeed.