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Surely the ultimate Christmastime outing if you’re a little girl caught up in a pink ballerina fantasy is a performance of Angelina Ballerina at the Sydney Opera House.
Attending the Wednesday matinee before Christmas, my not-yet-two-year-old daughter and I joined the throngs of tiny tutu-ed dancers eagerly skipping and prancing through a muggy morning down at the Quay.
On their best behaviour for a much-anticipated outing to see the little star with big dreams perform at such an iconic landmark, the young audience were chaperoned by mums and grandmas, many of whom appeared just as eager as their charges.
The concert hall foyer buzzed with excitement, and despite the busy scene, the movement of departing and arriving audiences was smooth, and as the capacity audience took their seats and the lights dimmed (ooh!), gleeful squeals heralded the appearance on stage of Angelina Ballerina.
Angelina Ballerina’s Big Audition is a simple story, told through the graceful balletic movements of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and accompanied by a recorded musical narration. There are no spoken words; the first-class pantomime skills of the mouse-costumed dancers are integral to the young audience’s comprehension of the tale.
Aspiring Ballerina Angelina receives an invitation to audition at the prestigious Camembert Academy, and is congratulated and then farewelled by her teacher Miss Lily and friends from Chipping Cheddar as she departs for her Big Audition. She tricycles off into interval – a necessity to break up an hour’s worth of sitting still in the dark – and returns to the stage to meet her fellow auditioners. Each mouse performs their audition piece (including an entertaining boy-mouse’s hip-hop rendition of Tchaikovsky's lively Russian Dance from The Nutcracker), with Angelina topping the class at the story’s conclusion.
On a personal note, our trip to the ‘moon house’ was very special as it was a first, along with a first train ride into the city beforehand. While my 17-month-old daughter was amongst the youngest in the crowd, the performance captivated her, and she clapped, tapped and danced in the aisles for the duration. I was even surprised to be told ‘peekaboo’, only much later noticing a mouse hiding behind the ‘anno’ (stage prop piano), who then did indeed play a tricky game of peekaboo to the delight of the audience. Clearly she was paying close attention to the dancers’ antics. Our journey home was punctuated with exclamations of ‘people!’ – the massive crowd of children making an impression – and a slurred, slightly off-key yet recognisable rendition of the Angelina Ballerina television theme.