FAB Focus with Cassie Parker

Cassie on Coppélia

 

Hello! My name is Cassie Parker and I’m a digital marketing intern with FAB. I consider myself a bit obsessive with ballet and theatre, and although any childhood hopes of becoming a ‘prima-ballerina’ are long-gone, it has been an absolute thrill to be involved with FAB over the past year.

At 4, I was slotted into the local ballet studio, “Miss McGirr’s School of Ballet,” where I continue to take classes today. Every dancer, no matter how long ago, remembers their first performance and cherishes their first costume/character. While many young ballerinas assume the role of a flower or a fairy, my earliest ballet memory was performing as a fish swimming below Captain Hook’s boat in Peter Pan. A fellow fishie fell over in front of me during the routine, but as the show must go on, I ran past my friend without missing a beat in my spring pointes.

Coppèlia holds a dear place in my heart, and I am forever grateful to my selfless grandmother who gave up her ticket for me in November 2016. To me, no other traditional ballet moves, both physically and emotionally, in the way that Coppèlia does. Although there is beautiful acting in Giselle, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, I have never been more immersed in the ballet than watching every character be (literally) animated in Coppèlia. Ako Kondo’s strong-willed Swanhilda was a character I had rarely seen on the classical stage, and the physicality within Dr Coppelius’ toy room still amazes me. There was a crash dummy in the room, which was strewn on a chair, folding his limbs such unnatural angles that I almost swore it was a stuffed doll (it wasn’t!).

However, the storyline of Dr Coppelius is tragically beautiful, and the complexity of his character being both an antagonist as well as the victim is a plot device that has left me thinking years after the curtain fell.

Another iconic aspect of the ballet is the music. Leo Delibes’ score retells the story as if it were a book – it’s hard to describe, but although it has been years since I last saw the stage performance, the score still brings me very close to the emotions of the storyline, immersing me in the animatronic amazement of the toy room, as well as the broken-hearted despair of Dr Coppelius.

It’s a very exciting time at the moment – my ballet classes have just started back, and my ballet school is setting up a few holiday classes to help regain some lost technique. I am very excited to stream Coppèlia on BalletTV, and I’m hoping to finally watch it with my Grandma from her home

FAB in Focus – Greg Khoury

FAB in Focus – Greg Khoury

Greg Khoury, Gayle Wakeling-Taylor, David McAllister and Rebbell Barnes at the 2018 Friends High Tea

We recently asked Greg Khoury to answer five facts for FAB. In this article our Chairman shares his personal passion for ballet and tells us how he is staying connected to the most robust, daring and enterprising high art form on the Australian stage.

 

What is your name and role at FAB?

Greg Khoury, Chairman, Friends of the Australian Ballet (FAB)

 

How long have you been involved with FAB?

Since 1993, when working with then NSW State Manager for the Ballet, Sue Davidson.

 

What is your earliest ballet memory?

Attending a performance of Sir Robert Helpmann’s The Display with Kathleen Gorham in the mid 1960’s at the old Her Majesty’s Theatre in Sydney. My Mother took me but I was really too young to appreciate it. The first ballet performance to have a real effect on me was later in early 1970’s at the Capitol Theatre where we were taken from school to see the film of Swan Lake. It was on the enormous screen of the cavernous Capitol. Watching this from the Dress Circle of the then vast decrepitude of the Capitol was quite astounding and the sound was brilliant. The Theatre still had its Greater Union installed cinema sound system from when they leased it, even though it had tuned “live” and Harry M Miller was presenting Jesus Christ Superstar at night.

 

Why is FAB important to you?

Ballet in Australia has always been the most robust, daring and enterprising high art form on the Australian stage. It has also generated from day one an eclectic, dedicated, all ages, all demographics family of balletomanes who revel in their love of this very fleeting art form with its dancers and stars. I have always loved being part of that circle and contributing to it – whether via The Friends or when I worked directly with the Sydney office on its major events or presenting ballets in the line of my work with Century, as we did when we presented Maina Gielgud on stage or the English National Ballet in Sydney. It’s all part of the one continuum of involvement with the Ballet world in Australia.

 

What are you doing to stay connected to ballet & dance at this time?

As I work on screen so much, I am not one for watching more on screen. For me listening to Ballet music brings back memories of some of the great ballet performances that I have seen – those that have had special meaning for me: my first visit to Paris and seeing Nureyev’s Sleeping Beauty at the Palais Garnier on a wet Saturday afternoon. I’ll never forget it when that 60+ orchestra struck up that thunderous overture and when the curtain went up on that immense stage that looked incredible with the giant set of Beauty; many of The Australian Ballet’s magical seasons that I have been so fortunate to see over the years; the Paris Opera Ballet’s  Galas in Sydney and Brisbane are highlights too.

My time working closely with Vicki Jones and the organising committee for David McAllister’s farewell keeps me connected to that wonderful group of supporters and keeps me active in the Ballet world along with my ongoing involvement with FAB.

 

Header image: David McAllister, Lady Mary Fairfax and Greg Khoury at a Friends event at Fairwater in 2009

FAB in Focus – Bruce Pollack AM

FAB in Focus – Bruce Pollack AM

We recently asked unstoppable arts and theatre publicist Bruce Pollack to answer five fun facts for FAB. Enjoy reading about his involvement in The Friends and the hold ballet has on his heart.

What is your name and role at FAB?
Bruce Pollack Deputy Chair, Friends of the Australian Ballet

How long have you been involved with FAB?
I joined in 2006

 What is your earliest ballet memory?
I grew up in a house that we used an old wind up gramophone to listen to records.  We used that machine until we got an electric. My favourite recordings, old 78rpm’s, was a set of 8 records of highlights from Swan Lake.  I can still sing this music as I knew it so well. The Australian Ballet did not exist when I was a child, but I do remember being taken to see a ballet, no idea which one.  My greatest ballet memory is seeing Fonteyn and Nureyev perform Swan Lake in Melbourne

 

Bruce Pollack posing with toilet rolls

Bruce Pollack preparing for COVID-19 and stocking up

Why is FAB important to you?
I have worked in the theatre from the age of 10 and I am happy that I have received a pay packet from the arts ever since.  Working in the theatre I see as much on stage as I possibly can, and I see many ballet performances.  In the 1970’s for 4 years I was the Drama Teacher at the Australian Ballet School.  I love being a part of a Committee for not for profit arts organisations.  They are essential for our way of life and imperative for maintaining a level of “culture” in our community.  This is the 4th arts board that I have been on.

 

What are you doing to stay connected to ballet & dance at this time?
I look at every possible ballet link that I can get my hands on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Header image
Bruce Pollack and other members of The Friend’s council presenting David McAllister with an oversized cheque in 2008

Welcome to 2019

Welcome to 2019

This year we are excited to take our Friends on a journey beyond the everyday and into the magical worlds of the Australian Ballet’s Year of Enchantment!

Our 2019 season begins with Verve, a contemporary triple bill from three home-grown choreographers, Alice Topp, Stephen Baynes and Tim Harbour. Tickets for our Dress Rehearsals on 4th April are currently on sale and can be purchased here.

Giselle has been added to the 2019 programme, replacing The Happy Prince, which has been rescheduled to 2020. Staton Welch’s Sylvia will finish the year, while we will be celebrating the Festive season with The Nutcracker.

We are delighted to welcome our Friends to Meet the New Dancers 2019 on 2nd April. Please join us for canapes, drinks and conversation at our annual welcome event of the year and meet Artistic Associate and Principal Coach Fiona Tonkin who will introduce the new dancers who have been invited to join The Australian Ballet in 2019. Tickets can be purchased here.

In office news, we have recently a new Customer Relationship System (CRM) and ticketing system, and we are still integrating this new software. We appreciate your patience during this time. If you do encounter any difficulties, please contact us on admin@fab.org.au or 02 9252 7322.

Looking forward to seeing you at one of our events throughout the year!

Best,
Katie

Christmas Office Closure

Christmas Office Closure

Please note that the office of Friends of The Australian Ballet will be closed from Monday 24 December 2018 until Monday 7 January 2019.  You are able to email any enquiries to admin@fab.org.au and we will respond as soon as possible on our return.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our members and their guests for their support over the past year and wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Best wishes

Lynn & Katie