retrace |rɪˈtreɪs|
verb [ with obj. ]
go back over (the same route that one has just taken): she began to retrace her steps to the lake.

As I head to the State Theatre to see Stephen Baynes’ Swan Lake for the second time, I am reminded that whilst I am revisiting this work, it is not entirely truthful of me to say ‘second time.’ I have seen ‘a’ version of Baynes’ Swan Lake in 2012 performed by the Australian Ballet with the now-retired Lucinda Dunn as Odette and Ty King-Wall as her Prince Siegfried. In the 8th performance in its premiere season, I saw “circles” in the music; I saw W.N.P. Barbellion’s “bird in flight” above the orchestra pit.

January 30, 1915
I love the way in which a beautiful melody flits around the Orchestra and its various components like a beautiful bird.

—(journal entry from) W.N.P. Barbellion, The Journal of a Disappointed Man (United Kingdom: Little Toller Books, 2010), p. 167

And tonight I will experience another version and will later have new sensory memories to file. The scenery and the tutus may look as I recall, and the traditional telling of the tale is certainly familiar, but each performance, in its own way, is always unique and whole. Tonight, I will see something different again, because I am different, the cast is different, indeed, everything is different, unfixed, and ephemeral. Fleeting, flying, evanescent, no two Swans are ever the same and no Swan is, to me, ever definitive. Tonight, Leanne Stojmenov will be my Odette, and Kevin Jackson my Prince.

ephemera |ɪˈfɛm(ə)rə, -ˈfiːm-|
plural noun
things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.
ORIGIN late 16th cent.: plural of ephemeron, from Greek, neuter of ephēmeros ‘lasting only a day.’

This evening’s anticipation is all the more affecting as Baynes’ Swan Lake was the second piece I wrote about for Fjord Review. As I often write in my feedback to my clutch of Exploring Painting students at RMIT, revisiting tasks with growing confidence, increased awareness, and equipped with developing technical skills is rewarding and revelatory. Sometimes, when we retrace our steps, we realise how far we have come. And we realise how far we want to go still. In that brief pause, encouragement to keep extending is found.

Upon the subject of revisiting, I would like to invite you to head to our redesigned website. Some 300-plus pages have been overhauled and had their feathers spruced. Louise and I hope you enjoy combing through what has been with a hint of what is to come.

Enjoy, friends.


Image credit: The Australian Ballet’s Amber Scott rehearsing for Stephen Baynes’ Swan Lake by Lynette Wills

The Australian Ballet: Amber Scott danced the role of Odette/Odile in the world premiere of Stephen Baynes’ Swan Lake. She says of the role, “It’s like trying on a classic vintage dress. It’s going to look different on everyone, but the reason it’s lasted so long is because it’s such a perfect pure classic form to begin with ... true beauty is timeless.”

(Related: Swan Lake: The Australian Ballet, choreographed by Graeme Murphy, written piece for Fjord Review)


Postscript, 15th June, 2016: Last night, I was willingly-netted by the beauty, strength, and connection between @leestojmenov and @kevin.j.jackson as Odette and her Prince (there’s always a prince in there) Siegfried. From Leanne Stojmenov’s arms that rippled in suggestion of bird flight to their magnetism even when apart, I returned my head and heart to my body momentarily to steal a memory during the released breath-hold of interval. Tuesday’s ensnarement was such that I would have let them spin me any tale, feathered or otherwise.