Sydney's newest performing arts centre, The Concourse in Chatswood, will be playing host to the English National Ballet for a limited time - and tickets have just been released for the Queen's Birthday weekend Diamond Jubilee Gala opening night and post-show party. Mother's Day gift, perhaps?
The programme features George Balanchine's Apollo and Serge Lifar's Suite en Blanc plus a collection of favourite pas de deux excerpts from Don Quixote, Manon and more danced by the stars of the company. It's the perfect chance to tick off a few ballets all at once.
Check out our interview with Brazilian-born identical twins Vitor and Guilherme Menezes about their first international tour with the company
Vitor and Guilherme, you’re monozygotic twins – but in what ways are you different?
Guilherme Menezes: Vitor is quieter and more reserved and I normally talk more. Vitor is a good cook and I’m a better cleaner. He enjoys staying home when I prefer to go out. We do look very similar, but our personalities are very different.
I imagine it would be pretty difficult to tell you apart when you’re up on stage in costume and make- up. Can your friends and family actually tell the difference when you’re dancing onstage together?
Vitor Menezes: Our way of dancing is different, which helps everyone to tell us apart, but it’s still a hard task. Our parents and close friends are actually very good at telling us apart. We had one teacher that could tell just by seeing the back of our heads.
What was it that inspired you both to go into dancing?
GM: We used to take acting classes and we were fans of classical music and one day we went to watch a ballet performance where our neighbour was dancing and we just fell in love.
VM: When I first watched ballet, I was amazed by everything. I guess it was love at first sight.
You both started dancing when you were nine and your careers have really run side-by-side ever since. Have you ever found yourself competing against each other?
GM: We went to the same competitions while we were training and the results were always changing. Ballet is a very competitive career, but we always look to the healthy side of it and help each other to make the best out of everything.
VM: We learnt to deal with competition very well. Now it’s much more about supporting and helping each other than competing.
Have you ever pretended to be each other, Parent Trap-style?
VM: Sometimes it just happens and it’s easier just to let it happen, especially on the phone.
GM: We always end up finding ourselves in situations where it’s better to skip the blame and pretend that we are the other one. There are places that we go separately and people don’t actually know that we are two people, like when we go to the same shop but at different times, they will always look differently at the second one, probably wondering, "Why is that guy buying breakfast twice?"
Does it help having the support of a brother in the industry, especially moving to England to study and perform?
VM: Definitely, especially because we were very young when we moved to England. It was essential for us to have each other’s support.
GM: We are literally full-time best friends.
Do you enjoy living in England?
VM: I love living here. London is such a beautiful city and I really like their culture and the fact that they really appreciate ballet. But I do miss having my family around.
Your dancing has seen you both performing in some pretty amazing places, including the Royal Albert Hall. Will this be your first visit to Australia?
VM: Yes it will, and I’m counting down!
GM: And it will also be our first international tour with English National Ballet, so our expectations are very high.
What are you expecting from your trip?
GM: I’m very curious about the audience’s feedback and incredibly excited to enjoy my time off there. I love travelling and I really enjoy going to different countries and learning about their culture. The first thing on my list is to go to the zoo and take a picture with a koala bear and have dinner in a steak house.
Vitor, you say the role you would most love to dance is Romeo in Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet. What draws you to that role?
VM: Nureyev is one of my favourite dancers and choreographers and I just love the way that he created and choreographed the role of Romeo. To dance a dramatic role like that has always been one of my biggest dreams.
You’ll be performing 'Celebrations', a selection of scenes from some of the most well known classic ballets, including Swan Lake, Don Quixote and Manon. What’s it like performing pieces that are so well known?
GM: These ballets are very traditional and have been danced by all the great dancers around the world and that makes it a real pleasure to be able to dance it and keep the tradition.
VM: It’s amazing. I feel very lucky to be part of such a great company and to share the stage with such great dancers. This is one of the programmes that I love dancing and I really think that the audience will love it.