DANCER Robyn Begg adores being part of The Australian Ballet’s special performances for children, especially when the kids are cheering for the Lilac Fairy.
That’s the role Begg dances in the flagship ballet company’s production called Storytime Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty, which tours to the Sydney Opera House and The Concourse Chatswood during the Christmas holidays.
Unlike adult audiences who like to observe normal ballet etiquette of sitting still and keeping quiet, children are quite happy to vent their feelings during a performance, Begg says.
“The kids will say anything they like,” the 23-year-old says.
“They’ll boo the bad fairy and cheer the good fairy.
“It’s quite a full-on production. And they’ve got magic wands as well. So you look out and there’s all these glowing star wands, which is very cute.”
Ballet artistic director David McAllister launched Storytime Ballet in 2015 with a new version of the classic tale of The Sleeping Beauty.
McAllister himself cut down the original version of the main stage ballet so that it lasts just under an hour.
He also wrote a script, narrated by Sean McGrath, so even the smallest patrons wouldn’t lose track of the action on stage.
“I know it’s (McAllister’s) little baby because he choreographed it all and designed it all,” Begg says.
“And he’s got quite a sense of humour on him with the narrator. It’s really funny.”
Although the production is shorter than normal, the technical difficulty of the choreography is the same as on the main stage, Begg says.
What with familiar fairytale characters such as Little Red Ridinghood, various fairies, and the Sleeping Beauty herself, there’s plenty for children to be entranced by.
Begg started dancing at the age of three in Aberdeen, Scotland, where she was born. Migrating to Australia with her family at the age of eight, she gave up highland dancing and gradually turned to ballet.
The family lived in Perth, but Begg moved to Queensland and then to Melbourne to follow ballet opportunities.
Begg joined The Australian Ballet’s education squad in January this year, which involved an audition, an interview and participation in a dance class with McAllister.
“It was all quite intimidating,” Begg says.
“I didn’t realise until I started working with them that it’s such a well-oiled machine.”