VISIT TO THE AUSTRALIAN BALLET’S NEW PRODUCTION FACILITY
ALTONA, October 2013
There was a big crowd of Ballet Society Members who filled a specially ordered coach and lots and lots of private cars to travel to Altona to have a tour of the amazing new Production Department storage facility. It is a huge covered space (10,000 square metres) with state-of-the-art fittings and equipment which houses over one hundred thousand costumes, properties and even full stage sets and scenery for maintenance when required.
The floor is a specially treated concrete which is not hard on the feet but because of the size of the facility, staff can use bikes, scooters and skate-boards to traverse the building. So, just to ensure that staff are fit, there is also a special gym for them to warm up before they get moving each day.
Members were taken on tours around the building by four well-informed staff of the Australian Ballet - Angela Embleton (Prod Co-ord/Admin ‘The Dancers Company’), Sean Balchin (Facilities Manager), Victoria Woolley (Assist Stage Manager) and Stephen Reddrop (Maintenance).
There were many ‘oohs and aahs’ and questions as Members moved from area to area and viewed costumes from the very early days of The Australian Ballet right up to the present time.
The costumes are hung on specially built ‘tubing’ which is electronically movable and even goes up and down stairs and is situated in a dust and temperature controlled area. To see the costumes being moved at the touch of a button was a revelation particularly to those of us who have memories of what used to be the case in the past.
One of the sets of The Merry Widow is in position and Members could pose and take pictures and other areas were set for photo-shoots of ballets for the 2014 Seasons. Twelve metre high ceilings allow just about anything to be stored and the two recessed loading docks even allowed our hired coach to simply drive in to the building much to the delight of the Members on board.
The tour took an hour and was then followed by a delicious afternoon tea prepared by the Society Committee who excelled themselves with plenty of homemade sandwiches and cakes which disappeared very quickly from the tables which had been set up by the staff of the facility. The staff were great and made us feel very welcome and valued.
All round, it was a fascinating day and one the Ballet Society plans to repeat next year for those who missed out this year.
Josie Woodgate OAM