What does a bloke do when he marries a ballet teacher and has three daughters, all of whom inevitably become involved in ballet too? He can’t beat ‘em so he joins ‘em – and has a lot of fun doing so. It helps, if the bloke also enjoys amateur theatrics. My involvement meant, on various occasions, being requested by Carole Oliver, directress of the esteemed ‘Carole Oliver Ballet School’, to be ‘the male’ in both end of year concerts and RSSS Eisteddfods.
A side issue of being ‘the male’ is that one doesn’t have the luxury of a dressing room – not a proper one, anyway. For us males (occasionally there was more than one of us) our dressing room was the salubrious Her Majesty’s Theatre’s laundry. However, it wasn’t’ all bad: I can report that I have shared changing facilities with a certain lanky 15-year old named Adam Bull; a rising star at the time, he is now a principal with the Australian Ballet.
My two South Street highlights included performing in ‘Don Quixote’ with my two daughters (I as a gypsy, faking playing a guitar) in 1997, and again in 1998 in the ‘Graduation Ball’ – a lovely comic piece in which I played the Officer in Charge of a group of cadets (all girls) alongside a ballet mistress and her students (also all girls…).
On three separate occasions I managed to partner three delightful young ladies in the lively pas de du that is a feature of ‘Graduation Ball’. I danced with Katie Jarvis who secured our win at South Street and Andrea Micich and my wife Christine in two end of year concerts held at Her Majesty’s Theatre – a performance moment which saw all four Thomsons on stage at the same time!
On several occasions I have also been a terrified entrant in the ‘Courier Ballet’ and been involved in the ‘One Act Play’ and ‘Excerpts from a Musical’ sections at Royal South Street, but none of those efforts were as much fun as the ballet!