SYLVIA’S GENDER-FLIPPING PAS DE DEUX

Posted on 24 July 2019 By Rose Mulready

When Stanton Welch was creating his version of Sylvia, he relished the chance to create strong female roles - and to have a light-hearted nudge at some of the gender stereotypes involved in pas de deux.

Sylvia, a warrior nymph, falls under a love spell cast by Eros (called Cupid in Roman mythology). His arrow causes her to fall in love with the first person she sees - a humble mortal shepherd. Enchanted, she throws herself in his arms. The Shepherd is undoubtedly interested in this heavenly being, but unable to quite believe a demi-goddess is coming after him. And coming on so strong, too! His hesitations make for a whole different take on the traditional pas de deux, and give Welch his chance to mix it up. "“We were very conscious of that,” he says. “Even the way they hold hands, how Sylvia walks; she is the dominant one, she lifts his chin, she leads the kiss. It was really interesting and in all the pas de deux we played with that, we made ourselves break the norm.”

Here are our dancers having fun with Sylvia and the Shepherd's first meeting, set to Delibes' comical pizzicato polka, which may be familiar to you from movies and cartoons.

Ako Kondo and Kevin Jackson. Photography Lynette Wills

Jake Mangakahia and Robyn Hendricks. Photography Lynette Wills

Robyn Hendricks and Jake Mangakahia. Photography Lynette Wills

Jake Mangakahia and Robyn Hendricks. Photography Lynette Wills

Ako Kondo and Kevin Jackson. Photography Lynette Wills

Ako Kondo and Kevin Jackson. Photography Lynette Wills

Ako Kondo and Kevin Jackson. Photography Lynette Wills

Ako Kondo and Kevin Jackson. Photography Lynette Wills

Stanton Welch, Robyn Hendricks and Jake Mangakahia. Photography Lynette Wills