Performances to entrance and transcend
By Narelle Wood
I’ve been a subscriber with the Australian Ballet for the last six years and each year I’m left wondering how exactly they will manage to top, or even equal, that year’s season. This was especially the case after the year’s Australian premiere of David McAllister’s Sleeping Beauty; one of the most exquisite and luxurious performances I’ve seen. The 2016 season plans to be just as exciting and enthralling, but for completely different reasons.
The five works have been selected because they in some way encapsulate the transformative nature of ballet, either through stretching the dancers, the audiences or the very idea what ballet should be. The Melbourne season begins with Vitesse, part of the contemporary mix, providing a selection of ballets ranging from the chic and sleek of “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated”, to the the Edvard Munch-inspired “Forgotten Land” to the speedy and fabulous “Danse a Grande Vitesse”, the performance’s namesake. The 2016’s classical repertoire includes a reprise of Stephen Baynes’ 2012 Swan Lake, an Australian premiere of Stanton Welch’s Romeo and Juliet and the comedic and playful fun of Coppelia.
The showcase piece for the Australian Ballet’s 54th season is John Neumeier’s Nijinsky. It was apparently fourteen years ago artistic director David McAllister first broached the idea of staging this ballet, and in 2016 this finally becomes a reality. Described as ‘a biopic of a legend’, this ballet celebrates the accomplishments and mastery of Russian dancer Nijinsky and his ‘unprecedented on-stage intensity’.
While Coppelia may be the only ballet here with lightness at its heart, the program sounds every bit intriguing as it does transformative. There is no doubt that the Australian Ballet will once again exceed all expectations by taking the audience on a completely different, and at times, unexpected journey. As always, I find it hard to pick what I am looking forward to most; the opulent costumes and sets, the unparalleled athleticism, the stories and music, or the grace and elegance of the dancing. 2016 is promising to be another season of exquisite, and world-class, ballet.
Season: Melbourne season begins 11-21st March
Performance Details: Available at australianballet2016.com.au