Lynette Wills, a former principal artist of The Australian Ballet, will be the first to dance the wicked fairy Carabosse in David McAllister’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty. She talks to us about the pleasures of playing the bad guy.
Last time you danced as a guest artist with The Australian Ballet, it was as the Fairy Godmother in Alxei Ratmansky’s Cinderella – a force for for good, like the Lilac Fairy. Now you’re the villainess – what’s fun about the role?
Lynette Wills rehearsing with David McAllister for The Sleeping Beauty. Photography Lynette Wills
In The Australian Ballet’s last production of The Sleeping Beauty, by Stanton Welch, I was lucky enough to play Aurora, the Lilac Fairy and Carabosse. However, I spent a large part of my career playing a variety of villainess roles and have always loved the drama that comes with them. You need to layer the character to make it work and have a clear picture of why you’re being evil.
Even in a “non-dancing” role like this, are there difficulties in coming back to the stage?
Lynette Wills rehearsing David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty. Photography Kate Longley
In a non-dancing role, you have to really break down how you are going to create a dialogue with the audience with no words or dancing steps. The gestures and expression are so important and even though this is a fairytale, you have to make it believable. Lucas Jervies [the dramaturge for McAllister’s production] has been a great help with exploring the character’s body language and the subtleties of the mime.
How does David’s Carabosse differ from the traditional wicked fairy Carabosse? What kind of direction has David given you about the role?
Lynette Wills as Carabosse in Maina Gielgud’s The Sleeping Beauty. Photography Branco Gaica
I have played Carabosse in three different productions with The Australian Ballet. The first was very early in my career, under the direction of Maina Gielgud, and it was very exciting to dance. In her production Carabosse was powerful, cunning and dynamic. Stanton Welch’s Carabosse was a break from tradition, all in white, with more contemporary choreography. In David’s production Carabosse is a bit older than the other fairies. He has a back story for her character: Carabosse used to be the “lead fairy” but she has been retired, unwillingly made redundant, and she’s not happy. When she’s not invited to Aurora’s party, it tips her over the edge.
What has it been like to get back in the studio again?
It has been so exciting being among these talented dancers and to be a part of a new production. There is such a buzz in the air and David’s energy, vision and excitement is boundless!