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Ballerinas & Brothers Grimm

Hansel and Gretel, the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale of two siblings lost in the forest and held captive by a wicked witch, is a cautionary tale of stranger danger and good triumphing over evil. This month, the beloved fable is brought to life on stage, reimagined through the lens of classical ballet as dancers from Leisa’s School of Dancing present their spectacular end-of-year performance.

By Kate Conway

The age of the dancers ranges from three to 18, making Hansel and Gretel an easy choice given the opportunity to portray a host of different characters, every dancer in the school playing their part in the recital.

“The younger children play roles like the woodland animals and the sweets in the gingerbread house. Each class gets to be a different character, and they become involved in the whole story,” says dance school Director, Leisa Jackson.

The chance to transform into dancing squirrels, butterflies, forest woodland fairies, gingerbread, cupcakes, candy canes, and other sweet treats in costume is a highlight for the dancers.

“It’s the kids favourite time when the costumes arrive, and they get to see what they are wearing. There is definitely a spark in the room when the costumes arrive,” says Jackson.

The culmination of a year’s worth of focus, dedication and discipline, the annual performance is a core pillar of the school’s approach to dance education, and an opportunity to display skills and techniques learnt.

“We don’t specifically follow the competitive side of dance – we think ballet is more about the performance, storytelling and development of skills,” Jackson says.

“They work towards this one major performance at the end of each year, and the big celebration of everything they have been doing is much more rewarding to them. When we get back to classes, it’s all they talk about. Even the following year, they are still talking about it!”

After the interval, other dance styles are showcased with the school’s jazz dancers presenting Pink Diamonds, a jewellery heist number featuring music from Pink Panther. Duprada Dance Company also hits the Top End stage for a second time this year, performing stunning contemporary piece Transformations, and elegant classical piece, Concerto en Blanc.

For Jackson, it’s this combination of dance styles on display, coupled with the excitement and end of year buzz, that makes the evening so special.

“It’s always a fun night out because we cover all of the styles of dance that we teach – there is a bit of something for everybody,” she says.

“Live theatre is one of those things that you can’t experience anywhere else. You get the energy of a production if you are sitting in an audience, and you’re seeing little kids pull funny faces to their parents, or dancers pulling off seemingly difficult things, you can’t experience that any other way than live.”

Hansel and Gretel
COST $30-$40

Photos: Leisa’s School of Dancing's 2021 performance, Swan Lake. Photo: Janelle Fisher

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