Mention Sleeping Beauty and everyone thinks of the beautiful princess. This time, Gwen Pew puts the focus on the wicked and angry fairy, Carabossse
First published on 10 Dec 2012. Updated on 12 Dec 2012.
As the Christmas spirits start to take hold of our Little Red Dot, Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) ushers in the season with another production of the beloved classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, which the SDT showcased back in 2010.
Set to a famous score by Peter Tchaikovsky and featuring over 150 roles – which will be played by a 70-strong cast in this production – the ballet has been performed by dance companies across the world.
While everyone tends to focus on the good fairies, the beautiful princess or the handsome prince who wakes her from her hundred-year slumber, we talk instead to Heidi Zolker, who will be playing Carabosse – a wicked, angry fairy hell-bent on revenge after not being invited to the party celebrating the birth of Princess Aurora.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am originally from Melbourne Australia, where I started ballet at the age of 9, and moved to Singapore two years ago to dance with Singapore Dance Theatre. Previously I had been dancing professionally for many years in California. I have performed in countless different productions, including full classical ballets and contemporary triple bills. You need to be quite versatile!
Have you ever played a 'baddie' in a ballet before? If so, how does that experience compare with playing Carabosse? If not, what are some of the challenges you faced in playing the bad guy (girl) for the first time?
Actually no, I have never played an 'evil' character before – it is quite exciting! For me it is fun to explore a role with such a strong character, and play the dark energy in the scene. Full length ballets like Sleeping Beauty use mime and movement to tell the story, so you need to rehearse interactions with the other characters, so it looks genuine and is clear to understand.
How do you portray 'evilness' through ballet?
Strong body language and facial expression is very understandable to an audience, and performing 'in character' is an extension of that. I have been making a lot of scary faces lately! You can show what you feel by the way you move or dance, and this is why rehearsals involve a lot more than just choreography and steps. Dancers should always have an emotion or a feeling to share with their audience.
What are some of the most difficult scenes to get right in Sleeping Beauty?
The entire production is a quite a challenge to put on stage. Because Sleeping Beauty is such an extensive ballet, there are lots of props, set changes, benches, forests, quick changes, and lighting effects which all have to be co-ordinated with the dancers' performance. Even in the studio everyone is very busy, making sure everything and everyone is in the right place at the right time. Following that, there are only a couple of days to rehearse in the theatre before opening night!
What should the audience expect from the show?
A full-length ballet is like a living piece of art. It is quite a unique situation, that we can bring a traditional ballet back to life, cast different dancers as the characters, and see it performed live on stage. Sleeping Beauty has lots of familiar and beautiful music, lots of costumes and scene changes, and great characters for both good and evil.
Sleeping Beauty is at The Esplanade from 13-16 Dec.