Saying Goodbye to a Ballet

Ballets that come and go throughout a dancers career should leave something behind they can cherish

First of all, a Happy New Year to everyone reading and I hope we are all off to a good start in 2018.

As it is a new year I am sure we have all welcomed in new experiences and challenges, as well as said goodbye to and learnt from old ones. This has actually become the topic of this blog post and although sounding like quite a sad one, you know I am forever finding the positive in all my endeavours.

❝Never have I been involved in such a ballet that carried so much meaning and responsibility due to the history and story it told❞

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Happily dancing as the Sylph in La Sylphide (Photo: Pablo Octávio)

Last month Badisches Staatstheatre Karlsruhe sadly said goodbye to two of our ballets for the season 2017/2018. This commonly happens as companies need to make room for new productions each season and in our theatre ballets are often only with us for two-three seasons at a time. An out with the old in with the new kind of thing. Although I wouldn’t like to think of ballets as old, more renewed or revived in the next company who puts them on.

Mid-show with colleagues and the children cast of The Nutcracker

Anyway, one of the ballets that took its leave for this season was the treasured Nutcracker – a ballet we have danced here for seven seasons now and I am sure we will be welcoming it back next season for another year of falling snowflakes and presents coming to life (I have shared my thoughts on this in another post – ‘Tis the Season to be Dancing). So it is not a too sad a farewell but a reminder that scarily one more year has passed and a time to reflect on another run of shows finished. This season I had as much fun as ever getting another chance to perform as the Christmas Fairy, a role I missed out on last year due to my own unfortunate injury and later co-workers injuries. So finally I was jumping and twirling around the stage once more with my bright-eyed casts of children. Oh, the life of a fairy.

The second ballet we are leaving behind is one we all hold close to our hearts and it is one I, in particular, have been on a real journey with. ‘Anne Frank’ was a huge success as a ballet when created three seasons ago by Reginaldo Oliviera and since then it has been an honour to bring to life every time we have performed it. Never have I been involved in such a ballet that carried so much meaning and responsibility due to the history and story it told. So having to say goodbye to that was something none of us wanted to do.

On closing night, I had the chance to dance Edith Frank again, a role created for me and one I was grateful to return to one last time. Being a very emotional experience anyway, that particular evening was a mixture of emotions – not only generated from the theme of the ballet but also ones from the dancers and audience knowing it was the last time it would be performed here in this city. We had the honour of Reginaldo in the audience who was quite emotional and moved by the evening and memories this ballet has given him, and he is definitely not the only one.

Performing as Anne alongside Pablo Octávio as Kitty (Photo: Jochen Klenk)

To me, this ballet took a lot of our company members on a learning and growing journey and that is what has made it so meaningful to us. Personally, I developed as a person and dancer with this creation. Being part of the creating process at the beginning not only brought me closer to the choreographer as a friend but seeing how he worked and the story of this little girl grow into steps and meaning through dance was eye-opening. When I got the chance to become Anne the few times I did I only learnt more about the meaning behind each movement and decisions he made. And then the feeling on stage it gave me is something I will never forget. All of this adds to my sadness of saying goodbye to a masterpiece.

❝We can look back on each production and see what it gave us❞

Although extreme with this particular creation, this feeling comes with the last show of any ballet- Anne Frank just made me realise it more because I was there from the beginning and a changed dancer at the end. And this is the most rewarding part of all ballets – we can look back on each production and see what it gave us. Remembering what it was at the beginning, to where it developed to by the end. Each ballet holds many memories for each dancer, and hopefully, these memories are fond ones. We can all take things from them whether that’s simply pure joy of performing them, technique improvement, artistry development or character building aspects, none of them should be a wasted show.

The last show of La Sylphide last season

After a tearful bow for the last time, I finished the evening surrounded by fellow admirers of Anne Frank, both of the girl and her ballet. We reflected on what we learnt and enjoyed our memories and finally raised a class to it all. I do hope with ‘Anne Frank’ it is just goodbye for now, as is often the case with ballets, they do like to come back around to teach us all more.

And we should never say never.

With love,


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