The world premiere production of Scottish Ballet’s The Snow Queen is a special one for Bethany Kingsley-Garner.
Not only is the company’s principal dancer one of three female leads in the show, which is unusual in itself, but she was also involved in the creation of her character.
She plays Gerda, alongside fellow principal dancer Constance Devernay as The Snow Queen, in the lavish staging.
“To be a ballet dancer and to have a creation, that’s something not to be taken lightly. It’s gold dust,” said Bethany.
“I’ve worked with our artistic director, Christopher Hampson, throughout the main part of my career, so he knows me and my personal life, personality and strengths.
“I also have a sister and have been a fiancée and got married, so these things all added into this.
“It does feel like an achievement, but not a singlehanded one.
“From the dancers and director to the costume, design and lighting departments, there’s a real team environment and that’s when empowerment comes in – we feel strong as we work together and bounce off each other. It’s a world premiere, so everyone had to be on board.”
In this version of the tale, Gerda becomes engaged to her partner, Kai, at the beginning of the ballet.
When he suddenly disappears, Gerda will do anything she can to find him.
She is accompanied in her quest by Lexi, a formerly minor character known as Little Robber Girl in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, who also happens to be The Snow Queen’s sister.
“I think it’s a perfect time for us to produce something like this,” said Bethany, who has been with the company for 12 years.
“We’ve always branched out and never followed a trend, so we’re really proud of what we’ve created here.
“When we performed Cinderella, she was such a strong character and didn’t need to find her prince for a happy ever after.
“Her prince added to her happy ever after, but she had already found herself by the end of the story.”
Having joined Scottish Ballet in 2007 after graduating from the Royal Ballet School, Devon-born Bethany was promoted to soloist in 2013 and principal dancer three years ago. She’s now in a position to pass on her experiences to the next generation, something she did as a mentor on the latest series of BBC’s Young Dancer competition.
“It’s important to have someone to look up to who has had a similar story,” she continued.
“I think stories of where women have been and what they have gone through to get to where they are is so important for the younger generation of dancers to know.
“I believe in providing as much mentoring and information as we can, because knowledge does empower and giving people empowerment provides a knock-on effect to the group as a whole.
“I’ve always looked up to my fellow dancers. Having a voice and being brave is something to be proud of – we’re following in some amazing footsteps, so it’s about keeping up that momentum and strength.
“It’s a responsibility I love and I will be proud to hand the baton to another dancer, because I know I would have given my utmost in mentoring them.”
The Snow Queen, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, until December 29
After its Edinburgh run ends, The Snow Queen continues on to Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle in Jan and Feb
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