A girl walking down a corridor
Dance, Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

A girls school adventure

Review: Fishwick & Hughes, ‘In SITU’, presented in association with STRUT Dance, Tura New Music and Artrage ·
Girls School Creative Precinct, East Perth, 29 November ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

It’s just after 7.15pm as we enter the corridors of the old Girls School in East Perth and the fading light that filters in through art-deco gridded windows lends an eeriness to proceedings. This is “In SITU”, Perth’s annual season of site-specific works from local independent choreographers and composers.

In keeping with former incarnations of this program, producers Emma Fishwick and Kynan Hughes present 2018’s “In SITU” promenade style, but this time it feels particularly adventurous. While the 1930s Girls School building is currently in use as a cultural space, it has an air of abandonment that creates a sense that we are on an expedition into the unknown.

Framing the program is Serena Chalker’s evocative installation, in-passing. As we travel from one performance space to another, we pass fragments of memory, moments of homage to the building’s former uses, first as a school and then as a police station. Text books are wedged in the wooden locker, a school uniform hangs in an alcove, incident reports cover a desk, a light-bulb hangs from gallows.

The first stop on the walking tour is a small office-carpeted room for Apply Within, choreographed and performed with punch and zest by Sarah Chaffey, Mitchell Aldridge and Melissa Tan. With its clever use of projection to imply a second performance space, Apply Within is a witty exploration of the interview process. Clad office attire teamed with boxer shorts and socks, the three dancers reveal what lies beneath their game faces. They’re accompanied by Ryan Burge’s score, that ranges from discomforting white noise to dance-style electronica. Now they move together; perched on three chairs they twitch and soften in synchrony. Now they’re solo; Aldridge pouring across the tiny space, Tan climbing the windows, crabwise, Chaffey shimmying through a presentation.

A girl upside down in a window frame.
Melissa Tan, climbing the windows. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

Stop two takes us into a large room lined with wooden shelving, on which sit rows of apples; their fresh scent lightly perfuming the air. This is May Greenberg’s How to Digest an Apple, a duet performed with grace and energy by Greenberg with Mitchell Harvey. Their movement is sometimes robotic, as apples are sorted; sometimes weighted, as though the apples are heavy in their hands; sometimes wild, causing an apple cascade. In Dane Yates’s electronic score we can hear vocals; repetitive, distorted.

Our third stop, in the building’s basement, is also scented; sweet and cloying. In There’s a redness in the west, blood on the moon, fire in the sky and it’s coming this way, dancers Dean-Ryan Lincoln and Tahlia Russell lead us through a series of rooms and soundscapes (by Steve Paraskos), the echoes of which create ghostly underlayers. Whether performing in the gaping space of an underground bar, a discomfortingly cramped cellar-like space or a room flooded with dead leaves, the dancers negotiate one another with a wariness that seems to battle with a desire for closeness. While this work isn’t as succinct in its motivation as the first two, both concept and performance are dramatic and engaging.

Two people dancing in a room of apples
Grace and energy: May Greenberg and Mitchell Harvey. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

Finally we move outside, looking towards a flight of steps that leads to the building’s main entrance. At the top of the steps, two dancers hang, their torsos obscured by crimson skirts, only two hanks of hair visible to give a sense of their identity. This is Sisters Vice, created by Natalie Allen in collaboration with endearing performers Ella Watson-Heath and Sarah Sim. The two young women ricochet between adulthood and childhood, chasing one another with screeches of delight one minute, seductively sliding down the bannisters the next. Rebecca Riggs-Bennett’s score also straddles the divide; playground giggling contrasts wordless vocals.

And so, the end. As we leave the precinct, we glimpse a figure in school uniform (Serena Chalker) drifting ghost-like down the corridor. It’s time to return to the present.

Whether your interest is in dance, music, architecture, or simply a desire to lose yourself in another world, “In SITU” is an intriguing and appealing walk into the unknown. Highly recommended.

“In SITU” plays until December 1.

Photo: Emma Fishwick.

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Calendar, Dance, December 18, November 18, Performing arts

Dance: In SITU

29 Nov – 1 Dec @ Girls School Creative Precinct ·
Presented by Tura New Music & Strut Dance ·

In SITU – A Dance Platform is an annual season of original
site-specific works from WA independent dance artists.
This year, In SITU is staged in the hidden corners of the
Girls School Creative Precinct. A blend of sound, dance &
architecture, come along on a journey of discovery in this
historic site. This is an intimate and roaming show, with
only 30 audience members at a time.

Curated and presented by Emma Fishwick and Kynan Hughes in
association with Strut Dance, Tura New Music & Artrage,
In SITU is part of an ongoing commitment to nurture the
development of local artists.

More info
W:  www.tura.com.au/tura-program/in-situ/
E:   admin@tura.com.au


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Female dancer, dressed in black, doing a sissone
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Polished and professional

Review: WAAPA Dance, ‘Verge’ ·
Regal Theatre, 20 November ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Eighteen years ago I performed in my final season as a WAAPA dance student, and returning to the Geoff Gibbs Theatre to watch the graduating students always provokes nostalgia in me. This year, however, the feeling was diminished, owing to a last-minute change of venue due to technical issues. Despite the stress and disappointment this must have induced (the change involved the cancellation of several performances) the opening night performance of “Verge” at the Regal Theatre was polished and professional.

Opening the program was Suite Romantique, a montage of grabs from 19th century Romantic ballets La Sylphide (August Bournonville) and Giselle (Marius Petipa), Romantic-inspired ballet Les Sylphide (1909, Michel Fokine) and new work choreographed for this season by WAAPA classical dance lecturer Kim McCarthy, to original composition by Italian composer and pianist Ciro Barbato.

Neatly stitched together by McCarthy and WAAPA colleague Danielle Hunt, Suite Romantique delicately wafted the opening night audience through time,  and provided many opportunities for the students to shine. As Giselle, Katarina Gajic managed protracted promenades and arabesques with aplomb. She was partnered with assurance by Marcell Stiedl, who also impressed as La Sylphide’s James, with his lofty grande jetes . Also noteworthy were the ethereal Kirsty Clarke, and the charming Sara Ouwendyk. Glorious live music accompaniment was provided by Barbato and Gennaro Di Donna on piano, and Robyn Blann on violin.

‘Suite Romantique’: a Romantic montage. Photo: Stephen Heath Photography.

Next stop was The Bus to Paradise, by acting Head of Dance Sue Peacock, in collaboration with 18 second year students. Having seen a number of Peacock’s works for WAAPA (and performed in one myself in 1999), I was struck anew by how cleverly she brings out the best in her students.

The dancers’ limbs often mimic the shapes above in ‘Bus to Paradise’. Photo: Stephen Heath Photography.

Exploring the question, “What is paradise?”, this contemporary work is witty and relatable. Beneath the bare branches of an inverted tree, the dancers’ limbs often mimic the shapes above. In pairs, trios, quartets or large-scale clumps they respond to sound that ranges from soothing ambient beats to sensual acoustic guitar… and it wouldn’t be a Peacock work without a microphone to amplify the voices of individual dancers as they relate anecdotes and pose questions about the concept of paradise. The movement is similarly eclectic – now hip-driven and sexy; now languid and lunging; now suspended, ready for explosion.

Beautifully lit by Jasmine Lifford (my favourite state was luminous green to represent “Tropical!”), the student cast performed The Bus to Paradise with panache and sensitivity.

After interval came Stirring Sketches of a Million Love Stories, created for 21 third year students by Portuguese guest artist Filipa Peraitnha. Unlike Peacock’s offering, individuality is subsumed by the whole in this contemporary work; any solo moments are brief and often obscured by the group.

Individuality is subsumed by the group in ‘Stirring Sketches of a Million Love Stories’. Photo: Stephen Heath Photography.

Against an ominously crackling soundscape, into which Camille Saint-Saens’ “The Swan” intermittently breaks, dancers writhe, ripple, shake. Again, the lighting design, this time by Timothy Bonser, impresses. Now cones of light illuminate the dancers from above, and movement becomes crisp and robotic. My favourite section sees the group grooving to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 3 in G. Allegro. This is a smart, sassy work that was performed with depth and precision by the third year students and, though it was hard to discern individuals for long, Alexandra Kay’s seamless solo was a standout.

“Verge” is a relatively long program and by the final work of the evening, Rafael Bonachela’s 2 in D Minor, I was weary. Kudos to the third year cast, then, for catching my attention as it began to wander bedwards.

Created in 2014 for Sydney Dance Company, and remounted here by WAAPA teacher and former SDC dancer David Mack, 2 in D Minor is a series of contemporary solos, duets and small ensemble sections that respond to music by Bach and contemporary composer Nick Wales. The choreography has been personalised for this season, and to excellent effect; all dancers gave commendable performances. Particularly noteworthy was an athletic duet by Alexander Diedler and Marcell Stiedl. In contrast Sara Ouwendyk and Makira Horner’s light-hearted partnership had a child-like sense of play. And, again, Alexandra Kay impressed with her versatile combination of fluidity and precision.

Though the programme is long, it’s worth sparing the time to see the 2018 graduates before they take off into the big wide world.

“Verge” plays The Regal until November 23. A tip: seating is unreserved. Sit in the back half of the theatre if you want to be able to see the dancers’ feet.

Pictured top is Sara Ouwendyk in ‘2 in D Minor’. Photo: Stephen Heath Photography.

Two men dancing, one is wrapped around the other, who is lunging. A girl looks on.
An athletic duet by Alexander Diedler and Marcell Stiedl, with Kirsty Clarke looking on, in ‘2 In D Minor’. Photo: Stephen Heath Photography.
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Calendar, Dance, Performing arts, Perth Festival

Dance: Sunset

7 – 17 February @ Sunset Heritage Precinct ·
Presented by STRUT Dance  ·

Leave your comfort zone and enter a mysterious world where
you wander with the spirits of Perth’s colourful past.
Discover forgotten secrets in the dusty shadows of one
of our city’s most intriguing and significant heritage
sites – Sunset down by the iconic Swan River.

From the renowned UK director-choreographer Maxine Doyle
(co-director of Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man, Sleep No More)
comes a visceral dance-theatre performance that is epic in
reach but intimate in experience. Inspired by the riverside
precinct’s rich and unique history and the bushland that
surrounds it, a stunning cast of Australian performers
transforms the former Sunset Old Men’s Home into a waiting
room between worlds, where classical myth collides with West
Australian stories and local heroes can waltz with gods.

A Perth Festival Co-commission

Presented in association with Tura New Music

More info:

Pictured: Sunset, credit: Simon Pynt

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Liam Green as Uncle Drosselmeyer with Carina Roberts as Clara and Matthew Lehmann as the Nutcracker in The Nutcracker. Photo by Sergey Pevnev
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

A joy to watch

Junior review: West Australian Ballet, The Nutcracker ·
His Majesty’s Theatre, 17 November, matinee ·
Review by Bethany Stopher, age 12 ·

Even before the curtain was raised on West Australian Ballet’s Nutcracker, the air was buzzing with excitement. The matinee was filled with little girls in party dresses. We were greeted by the backdrop of a quaint toy shop and city with foot-thick snow that glowed under the lamplight. There were even falling speckles of snow projected onto the background. After the lights had dimmed, the little toy shop’s windows became transparent and there we could see Uncle Drosselmeyer (Christian Luck), preparing his toys for the party. Then, the doors slid open to reveal the shop inside.

Those opening moments are just the start of the magical scenery, props and special effects to come. At the party, Uncle Drosselmeyer does some wizardry with a walking stick, making it leave his hands and suspend in the air. When the grandfather clock strikes midnight and Clara (Asja Petrovski) returns to the beautiful living room to retrieve her doll, the Christmas tree grows to the ceiling, mist surrounds her and remote control rats with glowing green eyes scurry around her. Amazingly, in the dance of the snowflakes, pretend snow falls to the floor. However, the snow, though beautiful, seemed slippery for the dancers on stage.

Carina Roberts as Clara and Matthew Edwardson as Fritz with Child Guest Artists in The Nutcracker. Photo by Sergey Pevnev
Exceptionally talented: Carina Roberts as Clara and Matthew Edwardson as Fritz with Child Guest Artists (from an alternate cast to the one reviewed here). Photo: Sergey Pevnev.

I was impressed by the costumes and I think everyone else was too; in fact, I heard a little girl whisper behind me “Look at her dress! It’s all sparkly!” when Clara‘s costume changes in the Land of Snow. In the party scene, no two costumes are alike, which gives it a realistic appearance. All costumes are delightful, even the rats’ with their humongous furry heads and velvet waistcoats.

And most importantly, the dancers. The duets and solos of the Nutcracker Prince (Julio Blanes) and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Candice Adea) were breathtaking; their turns, their jumps, their lifts! It was astonishing. Christian Luck also played a very fine Uncle Drosselmeyer, with his quirky movements and kindly expression. Asja Petrovski was an excellent Clara, as she captured Clara’s child-like spirit. Oliver Edwardson was convincing as Clara’s sulky brother. The corps de ballet’s work was extremely precise and the child guests were exceptionally talented for their young age.

The Nutcracker is a Christmas family tradition and a joy to watch. I definitely recommend it, I love the magic, humour and dance in this ballet and I think you would too.

The Nutcracker plays His Majesty’s Theatre until December 9.

Read a review of The Nutcracker from senior reviewer Amy Wiseman here.

Pictured top is Liam Green as Uncle Drosselmeyer with Carina Roberts as Clara and Matthew Lehmann as the Nutcracker (from an alternative cast to the one reviewed here). Photo: Sergey Pevnev.

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Liam Green as Uncle Drosselmeyer with Carina Roberts as Clara in The Nutcracker. Photo by Sergey Pevnev (3)
Children, Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Wintry delights

Review: West Australian Ballet, The Nutcracker ·
His Majesty’s Theatre, 17 November ·
Review by Amy Wiseman ·

West Australian Ballet’s enchanting production of The Nutcracker treats audiences to a little magic before they even enter His Majesty’s Theatre. A snowy blizzard falling onto the street outside transforms a mild Perth evening into a wintry wonderland befitting this Christmassy tale.

Inside the auditorium, projected snowflakes fall softly onto the white-dusted set of a London street. Choreographed by Jayne Smeulders, Sandy Delasalle and Aurélien Scanella in 2016, this version of The Nutcracker, set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic and beloved score, follows the story of the Stahlbaum’s Christmas Eve party and is filled with child-like wonder and magic.

Act I opens with Uncle Drosselmeyer (Liam Green) in his toymaker’s workshop, adding some final adjustments to his most prized dolls. As the much-loved, eccentric uncle, Green impressed in this performance, with broad sweeping arabesques, light confident allegro and a hint of appealing cheek.

Wonderfully intricate sets and costumes by design duo Phil R Daniels and Charles Cusick Smith present continual surprises; peep holes open to reveal the whole magical scene, realised by Jon Buswell’s stunning lighting. As the Stahlbaum party unfolds, gathering guests enter a large ball room; the centrepiece, a table laden heavy with presents under a giant festive Christmas tree.

Clara and Fritz, the Stahlbaum children, are excited by Drosselmeyer’s arrival. Dancing the role of Clara in this cast, Carina Roberts was delightfully earnest, while Matthew Edwardson charmed as her boisterous and jealous brother Fritz. A highlight of this scene was the polished and exuberant performance given by the eight young guest artists. The company dancers were elegant in dark gowns and suits, sweeping across the stage with ease, but it was Roberts and the children who stole the spotlight.

Drosselmeyer enchants the children, weaving magic and giving them wondrous toys, and Clara is entranced by her Nutcracker doll. Much later, unable to sleep, she returns to where she has left the Nutcracker, under the Christmas tree, and the real magic begins. There’s an epic battle between evil pirate rats and her now life-size Nutcracker, accompanied by an army of toy soldiers, assisted by Uncle Drosselmeyer. As the King Rat, Christian Luck was sassy and comical in the clever battle sequence that leaves Clara and her Nutcracker victorious.

Matthew Lehmann (Nutcracker Prince) and Claire Voss (Sugar Plum Fairy) in The Nutcracker. Photo by Sergey Pevnev
Matthew Lehmann (Nutcracker Prince) and Claire Voss (Sugar Plum Fairy) in ‘The Nutcracker’. Photo :Sergey Pevnev.

Drosselmeyer transforms the Nutcracker into a Prince (Matthew Lehmann) who dances with Clara before journeying together to a Winter Wonderland. Twelve dazzling snowflakes and a Snow Queen (Claire Voss) demonstrated sparkling footwork, precise formations and graceful port de bras in this kaleidoscopic waltz, complete with softly falling snow. The corps de ballet were again strong in Act II, in which Clara, the Prince and Drosselmeyer venture to the Land of Sweets. The Sugar Plum Fairy’s invitation for the special guests to view a suite of performances provides a showcase of dancing feats. Dressed in candy-pink tutus for the well-loved Waltz of the Flowers, the corps wove through creative compositions, demonstrating beautiful technique and style, supported by the glorious music of the West Australian Philharmonic Orchestra under the seamless direction of Myron Romanul.

Highlights of Act II included the fiery and stylish Polly Hilton with her three Spanish suitors, Adam Alzaim’s fabulously athletic, crowd-pleasing Russian solo and the trio of sweet, striped Mirlitons (Nikki Blain, Stefano Russiello and Chihiro Nomura). While tradition has its value, I found elements of this scene problematic for a 2018 platform – particularly the cultural misappropriation within the Arabian and Chinese sections, which could be easily avoided with updated choreography. That said, both dances were sensuously and effervescently performed.

The Grand Pas de Deux had some thrilling moments and improved in confidence throughout but was a little shaky in the performance viewed. The Sugar Plum Fairy (Claire Voss) showed grace and poise in the main, but her performance felt tense and laboured at times. Her Prince (Lehmann) demonstrated neat turns and skilful, reliable partnering, though his allegro occasionally lacked attack.

A lively and colourful finale brings the story to conclusion, but was it all just a dream? This is a timeless and engaging story with beautiful dancing, stunning design, enchanting music and magic galore that will appeal to the young and the young at heart.

The Nutcracker plays His Majesty’s Theatre until December 9.

Read a review of The Nutcracker from junior Seesaw critic Bethany Stopher, age 12.

Pictured top: Liam Green and Carina Roberts in The Nutcracker. Photo: Sergey Pevnev.

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Dance: Kwongkan

16 – 20 February @ Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Presented by Ochre Dance & Daksha Sheth Dance ·

Settle in amongst the trees in the gardens of Fremantle Arts
Centre and be transported to a world where superhero gods are
battling impending environmental and cultural calamities.
Indigenous Australian and Indian performers combine traditional
and contemporary dance theatre with live music, aerial work and
extraordinary visuals in the world premiere Kwongkan.

After their homes, cultures and sacred lands are smashed a group of
First People transform into powerful dancing deities who struggle with
their godly powers as they attempt to save the planet and their ancient
knowledge. These superheroes come to life under extreme conditions in
ritual performances fashioned on the god-transformations of southern
India. As in many ancient stories and dramas the gods here are fallible
and share the greed and self-interest of humanity.

Sheth Dance Company, Kwongkan has been forged over three years of
trips to sacred lands in desert Australia and tropical India. Local
Noongar dancer, actor and director Ian Wilkes and India’s extraordinary
siblings Isha Sharvani and Tao Issaro (the children of dance guru
Daksha Sheth) star alongside brilliant young Indigenous dancer Nadia
Martich, aerialist and Bollywood actor Ratheesh Rajendram and didgeridoo
maestro William Barton.

Arrive early to experience the pre-performance rituals, warm-ups,
set preparation, costuming and body painting.

Chairs and picnic blankets are welcome and food and drinks will
be available for purchase.

A Perth Festival Co-Commission

Presented in association with Fremantle Arts Centre

More info:

Pictured: Kwongkan, credit: Mat McHugh

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Ballet at the Quarry
Calendar, Dance, Performing arts, Perth Festival

Dance: Ballet at The Quarry

8 Feb – 2 Mar @ Quarry Amphitheatre ·
Presented by West Australian Ballet ·

Dance with a difference is heading to the Quarry Amphitheatre
as West Australian Ballet presents three exciting new works
under the summer night sky.

Acclaimed choreographer Garry Stewart joins forces with WAB and
one of Australia’s newest contemporary dance companies Co3 Australia
to explore themes of death and transformation set against brooding
backdrops of nature – a bewitching forest, a foreboding lake, an
ominous moon. A visually dazzling work embodying ritualistic and
other-worldly tones Reincarnation evokes an alternate universe where
metamorphosing bodies pass through a cathartic journey of resurrection
and renewal.

Experience In-Synch, an improvised dance work accompanied by world-
renowned vocalist, beat-boxer and looper MB14. Aurélien Scannella and
Sandy Delasalle, alongside Sydney Dance Company and former WAB dancer
David Mack, create a frame of movement for the dancers who each night
improvise in response to MB14’s pulsing live melodies.

Being constantly under surveillance … What kind of emotions does this stir
in a person? In X-It dancers move between the stage and synchronised worlds
borne from video projections. The choreography is built on the foundations of
the study of emotions and shifting power balances within human relationships.

Order your picnic hamper and settle in for a night of dance and dining under
the stars.

Presented by the West Australian Ballet in association with Perth Festival and
supporting partners Bankwest & EY

More info:

Pictured: Ballet at The Quarry, credit: Liz Looker

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One Infinity
Calendar, Dance, Music, Performing arts, Perth Festival

Music & Dance: One Infinity

7 – 10 February @ His Majesty’s Theatre ·
Presented by: Beijing Dance Theatre, Dancenorth Australia ·
Playking Productions & Jun Tian Fang ·

Sound and movement combine to create the hypnotic and meditative
ritual One Infinity. Inspired by a Chinese ancient tale, this
cross-cultural collaboration brings eastern and western traditions
together for a shared experience of beauty and contemplation.

When Australian recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey spent time with
guqin master Wang Peng of Beijing’s Jun Tian Fang Music Ensemble,
neither could have imagined what extraordinary work they would create
composer Max de Wardener to the process led to the creation of a
transformative immersion in music and dance.

One Infinity is an entirely new experience. What begins as a concert
of hauntingly beautiful music soon reveals another dimension, as dancers
from Beijing Dance Theatre and Dancenorth Australia echo the sounds with
their gently shifting bodies. Masterful choreography and everyday movement,
ritual and improvisation, nature and civilisation are all driven into a
state of flux in this stunning immersive experience.

A Perth Festival Co-Commission
Produced by Playking Productions & Jun Tian Fang
Featuring Jun Tian Fang Music Ensemble and dancers from
Beijing Dance Theatre and Dancenorth Australia

More info:

Pictured: One Infinity, credit: Amber Haines

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Dado Masilo's Giselle
Calendar, Dance, Performing arts, Perth Festival

Dance: Dada Masilo’s Giselle

28 Feb – 2 Mar @ His Majesty’s Theatre ·
Presented by Dada Masilo | Dance Factory Johannesburg ·

The classic romantic ballet Giselle is turned on its head
by South African dancer and choreographer Dada Masilo.

The setting is a South African village, where the barefoot
dancers perform a dazzling dance drawn from classical ballet,
contemporary dance and African ritual and the well-known story
of betrayal, heartbreak and revenge is given a decidedly
contemporary twist. The result is a searing, stunning performance
that will resonate in hearts and minds.

Masilo’s radical reimaginings of classical ballets are world
renowned. Her Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet boldly deconstructed
ballet’s gender and racial dynamics. In this ground breaking new
version of Giselle, music by South African composer Philip Miller
that features African percussion with elements of the original ballet
score and visuals by renowned artist William Kentridge combine with
electrifying dancing for an experience that is visceral, bold and unexpected.

More info:

Pictured: Giselle, credit: John Hogg

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