Ariel en Pointe
From Disney's classic animation to Edvard Eriksen’s iconic statue perched on a rock overlooking Langelinie Promenade in Copenhagen - Hans Christian Anderson’s classic The Little Mermaid has inspired many artists spanning many artforms.
This month, the beloved story of a young mermaid finding her place in the world is reimagined through the medium of dance by the Victorian State Ballet.
By Kate Conway
Created by husband-and-wife duo and co-artistic directors of the company, Martin and Michelle Sierra, the ballet was first performed in 2019. While the fluid-like, graceful movements of classical ballet seemingly go together perfectly with the underwater world of the story, Michelle says when Martin first came to her with the idea, she initially had her reservations.
“At first I thought it would be hard to portray the underwater setting, it did take me awhile to get my head around it,” she says.
“He directed it, I choreographed it and together we worked out the scenes and pulled out the important parts of the story... it’s very light-hearted and fun.”
Alongside the choreography, the layered performance uses a fleet of production elements from lighting and projections to music, costumes and set design to depict the seascape.
Set to a sweeping soundtrack featuring a mixture of traditional and contemporary classical works from Strauss to Pavarotti, dappled lighting illustrates sun light dancing on the ocean floor, with brightly coloured costumes representing coral or flowing fabric tails and fins moving with the dancers.
“The male dancers are swordfish, and they do a lot of partnering where they lift the girls as if they are floating so the costumes also add to the effect,” Sierra says.
While the ballet leans more into the original Hans Christian Anderson storyline than modern iterations, audiences will recognise familiar characters and plot points along Ariel’s adventure.
Dive into this stunning performance and witness the magical story brought to life on stage with all the beauty, grace and artistry of classical ballet.
Photo: Enpointe Productions