Credit: Simon Eeles

Covid caused so many of the ballet’s performances to be cancelled this year, but with just a few weeks left in the season we received a gift – the Australian Ballet’s Celebration Gala.

The Celebration Gala itself is a series of pas de deux from the great classics like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, to contemporary excerpts like Clay from Logos.

For me, I only just started going to the ballet so I’m still learning everything and finding out what I like. So, with that in mind, as someone new to ballet, this was fantastic!

The only ballet that I know with any kind of confidence is Swan Lake. Every other ballet I only have a passing familiarity with. So, getting to see just fragments of Swan Lake was really exciting but I was worried about it not living up to the hype. Turns out I shouldn’t have been worried because I was absolutely blown away!

Benedicte Bemet and Chengwu Guo in a pas de deux from The Nutcracker | Credit: Daniel Boud

Both the White and Black Swan pas de deux were amazing and now I feel like I can say I understand the film Black Swan just that little bit better thanks to this. However, the absolute highlight in these dances was Benedicte Bemet as the Black Swan. Again, I don’t know anything technical about ballet, but she was making moves that were impressive nonetheless and I’m not just talking about the 32 fouetté turns. I’ll have to start brushing up on my ballet vocabulary so I can express to you better what it was that made her so good but let me put it this way – there’s a reason her face is all over the promo for this event.

The standout highlight for me personally was the excerpt from Anna Karenina. I adored the book, like many others, and I didn’t understand how a wordy book with complex discussions on love and society could be performed as a dance. They showed me how alright. The scene depicts the relationship between Vronsky and Anna in such a delicate and emotional way that just isn’t possible with words. I was speechless.

It certainly made me excited for next year’s performance of Anna Karenina. You bet I’ll be there opening night!

Now was there anything I didn’t like? The pas de deux from Concerto was not my favourite, and I believe my partner actively disliked it. The only one I think I disliked was After the Rain and I think it was simply because I didn’t connect to it.

So was it just the more contemporary dances I didn’t like? Not at all. One of my favourites of the night was Clay. Again, so much emotion depicted without words, somehow stringing you along suggesting one thing then another. Were the couple fighting? Are they fighting with themselves or their demons? I don’t know, but I’m glad I was asking those questions.

The Australian Ballet’s Celebration Gala was something that has now cemented an interest in ballet. Hopefully a lifelong one but seeing what different kinds of ballet is like and what it can express has been a truly valuable experience for me.

Get in quick as the last show in Sydney is on December 3rd. Melbourne gets the show from December 9 – 18.

In case you were curious, this was how the first time I went to the ballet went