If you have ever wondered how The Australian Ballet Company manage its magical sets and costumes that so brilliantly enhance their work, to quench your thirst, the Company is providing tours of its Altona Production Centre which houses the sets and costumes.
From the Company’s headquarters in Southbank you will be whisked to the Production Centre where a witty and engaging briefing will be conducted by Colin Peasley, a founding dancer of the Company, whose career spanned 50 years. Who better then to be your host and guide through the Centre?
Colin regales all, with anecdotes and amusing tidbits as he presents the various areas and departments that make up the 10,000 square meter Centre.
Foremost is the vast sets and props area. You may be lucky to see the work being undertaken in the scenic painting area, most of which is done by hand using stensils on huge backcloths.
Nearby are stored the artificial stage floors needed to provide soft resilience for the dancers and a smooth unencumbered surface to avoid injuries.
Scenery, props and equipment are stored methodically on wheeled platforms to enable fast and easy movement. Each ballet has its designated scenery storage unit that is housed in a marked bay, with easy back up for transport trucks to be seamlessly loaded.
The Company has an enormous collection of props and backcloths that are no longer in use but are carefully stored and available for hire.
The costume storage area is spread over two levels. Guiding you through this section, Colin entertains with some great anecdotes about various productions in which he was involved. It’s really exciting and terrific fun to see the costumes of nearly 400 ballets hanging and grouped in beautifully neat rows. The desire to sneak off and play dress-ups is almost irresistible!
Approximately one kilometer of hanging rail is involved and equipped with a speed rail system for moving the costumes around.
The upper storage level houses the costumes no longer in the Company’s repertoire whilst the lower area holds those for current works. It’s such a thrill to be up close and personal to the costumes and to note the names of familiar dancers on the labels. It feels so intimate. Most of the costumes are designed to fit up to 3 or 4 different body shapes. It’s very resourceful!
The detail, the quality and the expertise involved in producing the costumes is extraordinary and Colin explains the importance this has in boosting the confidence of the dancers when they step into the roles wearing fabulous costumes. We all know how confidence grows when we look good!
Storage of the tutus is fascinating. A specially designed drum, within a huge box has been created for stacking them flat like plates. It can then be used to transport them. This is a unique design of the Company’s. When not being transported, the tutus are stacked flat on shelving.
The entire storage area is temperature controlled and treated for bug protection every 6 weeks.
Finally, a brief peep at the wig making area brings the tour to an end and you are transported back to Southbank.
Informative, fun and enlightening, this is a thoroughly enjoyable tour for anyone interested in ballet, costuming or behind the scenes workings.
For dates and booking click here