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  1. The Merry Widow is venerable in Australian Ballet terms. It was the first full length ballet comissioned by TAB in 1975, the gift ... it turned out to be the parting gift ... of Robert Helpman. (Helpman for me will always be the chivalrous, courteous and dignified Don Quixote of Nureyev's filmed production with TAB. Deluded, yes, but dignified. For me, no other Don Quixote comes near him.) But back to the Merry Widow. It's a glorious romp, Deceptively complex choreography (Ronald Hynd), sumptuously costumed, to great music (thank you John Lanchbery, who did a seamless job of rearranging Franz Lehar's music) and wonderfully danced. The night I attended, Hanna Glawari was danced by Kirsty Martin. Who? Oh, shame. Kirsty Martin turns out to be, not a principal dancer, but perhaps the principal dancer of TAB ten years ago. Retiring in 2011, she now teaches at the Australian Ballet's school, and came back for two performances of this ballet. Her return was facilitated by the fact that, although Marilyn Rowe was the first Hanna (and was repetiteur for the present production), Hanna's role was also designed with an aging Margot Fonteyn, who danced the role in the New York premiere in 1976, in mind. Together, seasoned principal Adam Bull and Martin gave us a couple by turns astonished, hurt, flirtatious and finally, recognizing their love. Leanne Stojmenov, as Valencienne and Andrew Killian, as Camille, were delightful, as was Colin Peasley as Valencienne's elderly husband. Colin first danced the husband's role at the premiere in 1975, and has danced it many many times since. Gives a whole new meaning to growing into a role. An amazing wealth of dance styles, from waltzes, polonaise, and mazurkas (why do mythical ballet kingdoms always get placed somewhere in eastern Europe? How about central Asia, for once? Great dances and no mazurkas) finishing with a great cancan (Chez Maximes) and a final delicious waltz which resolves everything and gives us a happy ending. I cannot tell a lie. I went along with no great expectations, and was completely won over. It may be fluff, but it's great fluff.
  2. If anyone is interested in seeing live the Australian Ballet's production of Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow, it is part of their July 2019 appearance in Les Étés de la Danse at La Seine Musicale. Performance dates 10-13 July. From 3-6 July they will be performing David McAllister's production of The Sleeping Beauty.
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