A principal dancer and creative choreographer with the Melbourne City Ballet, Brendan Bradshaw hails from Wauchope. From a small country town to the world stage, Brendan’s talent and hard work has led to many opportunities … and he’s very excited to be visiting area as Oberon, King of the Fairies, in Michael Pappalardo’s adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream …
Hi Brendan. You’re originally from Wauchope! What do you remember most about growing up and beginning to dance there?
Yes, I moved to Wauchope when I was three years old, and I began ballet lessons as a six year old (because I wanted to do whatever my six month older niece did) under the nurturing eye of Francessca O’Donnell, where I stayed until I moved away to full-time dance school at 16.
You’ve danced for a few companies over the years, including the Australian Ballet School and the Queensland Ballet, but ten years of your career were also spent in New Zealand. How did spending this length of time in another country ultimately influence your skills and career?
I was extremely lucky. Before leaving Wauchope, I hadn’t left NSW really, then after graduating from the Australian Ballet School, I joined the Royal NZ ballet and in the first six months there I was fortunate enough to do a six week tour of the U.K.
I couldn’t believe a little ballet hopeful from Wauchope was performing on the world stage. Not only did I get to tour extensively throughout NZ, but I also toured China, America, France and Australia.
You’ve been with Melbourne City Ballet since 2014 and you’re not only a principal dancer with the company, but also a creative choreographer. What led to the decision to work in dual roles? Do you enjoy both roles equally?
I’ve always been keen on the idea of creating pieces, and I had created a few short works for the dancers in NZ, but last year I was so lucky to create my first full length production, Dracula on MCB, and I was long list nominated for the Australian dance awards for choreography, which I am totally thrilled about.
I do enjoy both roles, and they both can be equally rewarding in many different ways.
You’ll be visiting the Glasshouse with fellow dancers and production crew for Michael Pappalardo’s production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Describe the character you play in the production and what you most enjoy about his personality.
I’m playing the role of Oberon; he’s the King of the Fairies. He is quite a dominant character; he has a master plan to make everyone in the forest happy. Unfortunately, he trusts Puck, his cheeky servant, to implement his plan. Puck is a mischievous character and also doesn’t have the best attention span and manages to get everything mixed up – which of course leads to mayhem.
Oberon is a great role, and quite different to the other characters, as he is the serious character amidst all the comedy and chaos!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is such a comedic, charming Shakespearian tale. How true to the original story is this production?
It’s our Artistic Director, Michael Pappalardo’s, adaption of the story. He has done a fantastic job of picking and choosing the best parts of the story that highlights core elements and creates a coherent production that is perhaps a little less complicated than the original story, and therefore the audience can follow it easily and become more wrapped up in the magic!
If you had to describe the production in five words, what adjectives would you use?
Magical, enchanting, comical, beautiful, cheeky.
What do you feel regional audiences will most enjoy about A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
A full cast, full-length ballet, with beautiful costumes – a quality production that is rarely seen outside of metropolitan areas. It will be a treat for young and old and a delight for young budding ballerinas and male dancers to see this level of entertainment in their own towns and will hopefully give them some inspiration and motivation to continue on their own dance journey.
How much are you looking forward to revisiting your old stomping ground?
All my family still live in the area, so it means the world to me to be able to bring what I’ve aspired to be from a young age back to my hometown.
Last year performing Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and now this year with A Midsummer Night’s Dream means I get to show everyone my different interpretations, which is incredibly exciting.
Interview by Jo Robinson. Photo (centre) courtesy of National Photography.
See A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2 September, Tamworth Capitol Theatre.