Fifty shades of ballet on stage

2016-05-03 06:00
Tracy Li will complete a circle when she performs in Shades of Love this weekend.

Tracy Li will complete a circle when she performs in Shades of Love this weekend.

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Performing in one of international choreographer Ashley Killar’s ballets in Shades of Love is “almost like completing a circle” for Observatory’s Tracy Li.

The former prima ballerina’s made her South African debut in a Durban production of Killar’s Romeo and Juliet in 1992, before moving to Cape Town to join the Cape Town City Ballet just one year later.

Although now retired, Tracy will make a guest appearance in Towards Illusion when CTCB present Shades of Love at Artscape Theatre from Saturday to Sunday 22 May.

The company have been hard at work since January preparing for the production which includes Killar’s Towards Illusion, The Miraculous Mandarin, Serenade and Glazunov Variations along with a brand new Romeo and Juliet balcony pas de deux by Robin van Wyk, the Beauty and the Beast pas de deux inspired by John Cranko, and the pas de trois, Tritsch-Tratsch, adapted and performed in his honour.

“Ashley is such a lovely person and easy to work with,” Tracy says, adding that while he might not always be an easy person per se, it’s his encouragement that makes the experience enjoyable. “It’s very nice to work with someone so positive and it’s very yielding in a way.”

Tracy explains that Towards Illusion follows professional dancers as they prepare themselves for a performance. “It’s basically playing around with what a dancer’s daily life is.”

With this in mind, Tracy says Killar isn’t very rigid, allowing Tracy to play with the feeling and message she wants to bring across to the audience. “It’s unusual and we are having a lot of fun trying to get the essence of what he wants.”

Since retiring from the stage in 2007, Tracy has stayed on with CTCB as a teacher and coach, sharing her 20 years of repertoire with a new generation of dancers.

She was pulled back to the stage in 2013 however to dance Camille and has made guest appearances “now and then” ever since. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

Tracy now enjoys the privilege of being more selective with the roles she chooses and tries to use this opportunity to explore her artistic side. “I’m not here to compete with the younger generation…. I admire all their strength and abilities, but I am exploring how much I can discover in myself.”

Tracy believes that supportive audiences will energise younger dancers, but quickly adds that they do have their own following, but the company is always looking to expand. From a management side she says the company is always pushing dancers to help them dance to the best of their abilities.

While Tracy doesn’t have any other theatre plans after Shades of Love herself, she’ll be concentrating on making sure the CTCB dancers are physically and mentally prepared for the company’s upcoming productions.

She’ll be joined by 13 other dancers when she performs Towards Illusion, to the score of Benjamin Britten’s “Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge”.V For more information about Shades of Love and CTCB’s other upcoming productions, visit Tickets are available from Computicket or Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 421 7695.

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