Anne Frank

Telling the Diary of Anne Frank Through Dance

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Anne Frank  1929-1945

Tonight will be this season’s first performance of our ballet creation ‘Anne Frank‘. And it will be a pleasure to bring it back to life. Since premiering last season, ‘Anne Frank’ has been a great success which means a lot to the company because it was created by one of our very own dancers, Reginaldo Oliveira. I have briefly mentioned this creation before and as I am sure you can tell from the name it is a piece with so much meaning and history.

Originally from Brazil, Oliveira moved to Germany to join Karlsruhe Staatsballett 10 years ago and discovered his talent for choreography while working within the company. He has had the chance to create many pieces with the dancers here but ‘Anne Frank’ was his first full-length ballet.

When I first heard we would be creating the story of this little girl’s diary from the Second World War I was very intrigued. I had a feeling Reginaldo would find a new interesting way to tell such a tragic tale. I have heard similar comments asked by the public, wondering how someone would portray such horrific history with ballet. But after experiencing the ‘holding onto the happiness while heading towards darkness’ opening scenes and the ‘hear a pin drop’ silence during the concentration camp second act, their questions were all answered.

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Family & friends celebrating Anne’s Birthday while her father & Miep discuss plans to go into hiding (Photo: Jochen Klenk)

I have the honour of taking on the role of Edith Frank, Anne’s mother. A modest, distant woman, but an excellent mother, who went to any lengths for her children. With Anne however, their relationship was quite complicated affecting Edith more than Anne.

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Tense moments between the families during their time hiding in the Annex (Photo: Jochen Klenk. Rafaelle Queiroz, Andrey Shatalin, Harriet Mills, Bruna Andrade, Blythe Newman, Ed Louzardo)

Working with Reginaldo to create this character was very special. Even now we are still developing her movements and character together, finding a deeper meaning to each step. There is a beautiful pas des deux with Otto Frank where I am ‘crying with my legs’ over the constant misunderstood relationship between mother and daughter.

My biggest challenge with this role was to play a ‘normal’ mother. It is easy to become a child or a crazy lady, where the acting and movements are exaggerated but to act as an ordinary grown woman with a husband and children was difficult. I really had to keep it simple and realistic. With such difficult emotional scenes taking place where the love between a mother and her children are pushed to unbelievable circumstances this is really a role I give my heart to every time.

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Margot Frank receives a call of duty letter, forcing the Frank family to go into hiding sooner. (Photo: Jochen Klenk. Harriet Mills & Rafaelle Queiroz)

The second act is very heavy for the dancers as we recreate the capture, transportation and final moments in Auschwitz concentration camp. The atmosphere is incredible. The deeper meaning of this ballet is unlike anything I have ever danced. The fact that I have been given the chance to connect with history in such an unusually beautiful way allows me to dance it for Anne, Edith, the Frank Family and every other man, woman or child who went through this tragic horrific time in history.

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Having this thought constantly in the back of my mind, together with the abstract scenery and beautiful authentic looking costumes, it is truly a ballet I hold close to my heart. Tonight is also special for me because it will be my first official performance of the season and back after some time off due to injury. May tonight be another great success for ‘Anne Frank’. Toi Toi Toi to everyone.

With love,

Harriet

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