State of Grace - Synopsis

A triple act ballet based on the music of popular South African singer-songwriter, Lesley Rae Dowling. 

Act One:  UNRAVISHED BRIDES: A love story set during the First World War.  The hero follows his patriotic duty and goes to war, leaving behind his fiancé.  He is the sole survivor of a massive and violent battle, and returns home to find utter devastation in the aftermath of conflict, and sets about to try and find his love.  His experience makes him question the value and purpose of war. (16 minutes)

Act Two:  HOME: Set in a country undergoing civil rights changes, a stable and loving family is torn apart by the choices of the two children. The son believes in duty to his country and joins the military, while his sister falls in love and fights alongside a revolutionary.  Under arrest, her lover is killed by her brother, while elsewhere in prison, she is physically tortured under interrogation.  They return home to try and mend the family bonds with their parents, heal the damage done to themselves, and to repair their own relationship. (22 minutes)

Act Three:  SP/LIT is the story of a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder as a result of PTSD.  She is dark and light: the dark side of her personality appearing when she is under stress, especially when faced with a man’s attentions.  Her complicated spirit intrigues him, and her occasional violence concerns him. As torn as he is, trying to understand her, he also deeply loves her and is willing to stay the course in an effort to find out what is wrong.  The journey to self-acceptance is moving and powerful. (35 minutes)


Lesley Rae Dowling was discovered in a folk club in the university and farming town of Stellenbosch, South Africa in 1980.  Multiple hit singles, gold albums, and entrancing videos launched her into the South African spotlight, and hardly a day goes by when her voice doesn’t ring out on the airwaves.

That deeply passionate voice, accompanied by her extraordinary piano playing, brought with it a unique and compelling story, as she fought against commercialism, fiercely protecting her privacy and independence.  Much like that other icon who shunned the same entrapments of fame, Sixto “Sugarman” Rodriguez, Lesley’s music was rarely heard outside the country.  Despite the demands from a loyal following, her live appearances are still very carefully chosen and her infrequent studio recordings are dispensed like precious gems, to be discovered by discerning fans. 

Lesley’s songs are personal, deeply intimate, and deliberately left open to interpretation.  This ballet fictionalizes those stories, protecting the true meanings of her poetry, and aims to bring her exceptional talent to a new audience.

It would be recommended that the original vocal tracks be used, with new orchestration. The songs used in this ballet have been taken from the span of Lesley’s career; hence the varying production sounds and instruments that represent a change in music trends. 

Her poetry, however, is timeless.