Ballet rollercoaster


Love, heartache, betrayal, romance, tragedy — La Bayadere has it all.

The ballet (in English, The Temple Dancer), first performed in 1877, promises to be a tear-jerker.

Associate director Alexis Cartwright reckons it’s worth the hankies.

It’s being presented by the Aotearoa National Youth Ballet in Queenstown’s Memorial Centre next week.

The three-act, seven-scene story is set in old Royal India and focuses on three main characters.

They are Nikiya, a beautiful dancer, a young warrior Solor (who Nikiya is in love with) and Gamzatti, the Rajah’s daughter and Solor’s betrothed.

Spoiler alert — Nikiya is given a basket containing a deadly snake but will it be a case of happily ever after?

Christchurch’s Cartwright says it’s a bit of a love triangle.

“A love story but a tragedy too … where Solor has to choose between money and his real love. The first two acts are really bright and lively and the third is more like your classical ballet.

“They [the audience] can expect a lot of emotion. Parts of it are quite heart-wrenching. It is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. There’s a particular scene that makes me cry and I don’t cry very easily. It’s a very emotional ballet at times.”

A troupe of 22 dancers will perform. Cartwright says they’ve worked tirelessly, putting in loads of hours to perfect the performance. She isn’t sure if folk realise the effort in putting on a performance.

“The amount of rehearsal time for the whole company is a lot — costumes, lighting and music. The point of ballet is to make it look easy, to make it look beautiful. All these ridiculously hard steps and choreography — it is easy for the audience to forget how difficult it is.”

Julie Tigou, of Christchurch, plays baddie Gamzatti. The 21-year-old, who is in her last year of classical training, says she’s been surprised how quickly she adapted to being a villain.

“The older you get the more comfortable you are with it. I have found with more training it is easier to portray characters and emotions through your dancing. The character I play isn’t a very nice one.

“Perhaps when you are dancing and playing a character it really gives you a chance to play someone else. Explore different sides of yourself — someone you don’t get a chance to be in real life. You get into it, especially when you have the support of the other dancers around you.”

It is the ballet dancer’s first tour and she says the entire cast is looking forward to a trip south. With a dream of upping sticks to Europe when she finishes school, she hopes this performance is the start of a successful international career.

Aotearoa National Youth Ballet present La Bayadere, Queenstown Memorial Centre, next Monday and Tuesday, 7pm. Tickets, adult $22, child $14