Above- Kristy Lee Donovan and Alexander Baden Bryce in Arche. Photography by Taylor Ferne Photography.                                                          

Following its inaugural sell out at The Concourse, Chatswood premiere season in March, Melbourne Ballet Company (MBC) returns with Archè on Thursday June 29 and Friday June 30 at 7.30pm on both nights.

Founded in 2007 MBC is a not-for-profit organisation which has now grown to become one of Australia’s most loved dance companies. The artistic policy of MBC is to present new work, modern ballet performed by highly trained classical dancers. Since its launch MBC has presented over 35 original works.

Based on the much loved age-old classic Swan Lake, the narrative-driven original ballet is taken from The Greek Myth – Leda and The Swan and The Dying Swan.

MBC director Simon Hoy has structured the work around his unique choreographic style and  has  developed  a  score   including  music by  Tchaikovsky,  Einaudi, Morricone   and Elgar. Timothy Podesta (South African Ballet Theatre, Projection Dance) has also contributed to the choreography.

Arché is a Greek word implying the beginning, the source from which all things arise. Ancient Greek philosophers sought the Archè in the four fundamental essences of the Earth: water, earth, air, fire; focusing on how they interact with each other.  Also, found deep in Irish culture is a form of communication between the elements, as represented by the figure of the Swan.

Archè MBC consists of ten  dancers  from celebrated   companies   around   the   world including The  Australian   Ballet,   Sydney Dance Company, WA Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet New York, and The Queensland Ballet.

The line-up includes Alexander  Baden Bryce, Johanna   Lee,  Masha   Peker,   Kristy Lee Denovan,  Maughan Jemesen, Gemma Pearce, Chloe   Henderson, Matt Dillon, Joseph Phillips and Michael Braun.

Melbourne Ballet Company’s Archè will play the Concourse at Chatswood on Thursday 29 June at 7.30 pm and Friday June 30 at 7.30 pm.

Sydney Arts Guide has 2 double passes to give away to the performance on Thursday 29th June to the first two readers to email the Editor with Archè competition  in the subject heading. Winners will be advised by return email.



We were privileged to see absolutely dazzling dancing in this revival of Balanchine’s Jewels by the Royal Ballet.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Balanchine’s work and a decade since it became part of the Royal Ballet’s repertoire.

The three works, all without a clear narrative structure, are a homage by Balanchine to French Romanticism (Emeralds) America and Broadway (Rubies) and the Imperial Russian ballet of Petipa ( Diamonds). The works feature scores by three composers – Faure , Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.


The Paris Opera Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

f we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here. While these visions did appearA Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scene 7

Stunningly danced the latest screening of the Palace Opera and Ballet season is the Paris Opera Ballet’s presentation of Balanchine’s A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM in two acts and six scenes .It is the first time the Paris Opera Ballet has performed this particular Balanchine work , one of Balanchine’s few narrative ballets .

Created in 1961 it features the marvellous music by Mendelssohn and uses a luscious reworking of the original Karinska costumes by fashion icon Christian Lacroix. Continue reading The Paris Opera Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream’


Ferri and Bonelli in The Waves

Originally created in 2015 this is a welcome return of resident choreographer Wayne McGregor’s three part work based on the life and works of Virginia Woolf.

McGregor’s three acts delve into three of Woolf’s novels, interwoven with images from her own life. The choreography is athletic and extremely demanding at times with death defying leaps and catches in the partnering and laser sharp legs .The Royal Ballet dancers are AMAZING.




Lush and stylish, this production is a glorious feats of dance, yet again proving why this version is rightly regarded as a classic. Macmillan’s fiendishly difficult choreography is marvellously performed.

This screening,  in which we get to see Roberto Bolle and Misty Copeland dance together for the first time. is of the performance that took place at the  Teatro alla Scala in Milan on the 15th January this year.

The orchestra under the baton of maestro Patrick Fournillier played the lyrical, achingly passionate Prokofiev music thrillingly.  Music lovers should enjoy the many detailed closeups of the various sections of the orchestra.



If you want to see pure, dazzling, practically perfect classical ballet technique danced superbly then this screening is for you.

The Paris Opera Ballet’s revival of  Nureyev’s SWAN LAKE is superb. The production choreographed by Nureyev was first presented at the Paris Opera Ballet in 1984 and previously last seen in 2011.  This screening was of the performance that took place at the Opera Bastille in Paris on the 8th December 2016.

Nureyev’s rather Freudian version is presented as if it is the main characters Siegfried’s dying dream,  controlled by Wolfgang, his tutor, who in Siegfried’s mind becomes the mysterious, malevolent Rothbart. The orchestra, under maestro Vello Pahn, plays superbly .

For the scenes in the palace there are clean , elegant lines of doorways and for the lakeside ‘white’ scenes there is  a rather Turner like ominous landscape. Continue reading PARIS OPERA BALLET MAGNIFICENT REVIVAL OF NUREYEV’S ‘SWAN LAKE’


Simon Hoy is the resident choreographer and tour director of the Melbourne Ballet Company and up till now has created seventeen works for the Company.

Hoy studied at the Australian Ballet School and has worked in Europe, Asia and America before returning to Australia in 2007.

The Melbourne Ballet Company, established in 2007, is led by Alisa Finney, and has talented dancers from around the globe.

As part of a national tour, and the Company’s tenth anniversary celebration, they are bringing a triple bill entitled BEING AND TIME to the Concourse at Chatswood.

This is a world premiere production and will feature new works by Simon Hoy,  Lucas Jervies (who has worked with the Australian Ballet, Scapino Ballet, Expressions Dance Company , Sydney Dance Company and the Queensland Ballet, among others ) and Tim Podesta (who has worked with the South African Ballet Theatre, Queensland Ballet and Projection Dance, to name just a few).

Hoy described this new production, ” as  examining the belief that philosophical thinking begins with, and reflects, its human subjects, in their acting, feeling, and as recognisable, living human individuals. This existential understanding of being is ‘grounded in time’, or the more popular way of describing it, is ‘of living in the moment.”

Hoy has been inspired by reading the works of Martin Heidegger the German philosopher. “While the predominant value of existentialist thought is widely acknowledged to be its freedom, its intrinsic primary virtue lies in its authenticity. Being and Time seeks to explore the concept of authenticity and the meaning of life, striving to articulate the question of Being.

“Through the movements depicted , questions are raised, – where does this movement come from? what does it mean to be human?!”

Hoy said that with this new work he is, “attempting to ignore his knowledge and preconceived ideas about the Company’s dancers, and create something as new, fresh and challenging as possible.”

The company is very excited as Mara Galeazzi, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet – currently performing with them in Woolf Works – will be joining the Company for the production.

Hoy has worked with her previously on a gala, and has already met with her this year.and met her again earlier this year.

In other exciting news, Joseph Phillips , of the State Primorsky Opera and Ballet Theater in Vladivostok, and formerly of the American Ballet Theatre,  will also be part of the production.

The Melbourne Ballet Company is classically based but like almost all dance companies now performs a mix of a variety of styles including ‘neoclassical’ and contemporary, They have a loyal following and have developed enthusiastic audiences in not just Melbourne but in regional areas too.

Hoy said he  regards regional touring as very important and is excited that the Company  is touring widely including to Darwin, Alice Springs and Western  Australia.

The Melbourne ballet Company can be seen performing BEING AND TIME at the Chatswood Concourse on March 11 and 12.

The Company will return to the Concourse again at the end of June when it will stage another new work, Arche, based on Swan Lake.



Ballet lovers should take this opportunity to see this screening of the Royal Ballet’s production of Sir Peter Wright’s version of Tchaikovksy’s /Petipa’s THE NUTCRACKER. This Royal Ballet production was particularly special as it was part of Sir Peter Wright’s 90th birthday celebrations.

This is terrific family fare, a quite traditional and enchanting production with some technically AMAZING dancing, particularly in the second act.

Visually this production is stunning with opulent, lavish sets and costumes and features some wonderful special effects, including a Christmas tree that grows on stage. Continue reading THE ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS ‘THE NUTCRACKER’ @ THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE LONDON



A must see for balletomanes, this is completely Natalia Ospiova’s show as Anastasia and she is more than sensational.

The Royal Ballet has just completed the live performances of this production which took place at between the 26th October and the 12th November. We are privileged to see this amazing production via the filming of the performance which took place on the 2nd November which is being presented as part of the current Palace Opera and Ballet season.

The ballet’s subject is the mysterious woman, known as Anna Anderson, who was incarcerated in a mental hospital in Berlin from 1920 and claimed to be Anastasia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, who somehow escaped from the cellar where the imperial family had been murdered by the Bolsheviks. Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan explores the whole notion – Was she or wasn’t she?!   Continue reading THE ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS ANASTASIA @ THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, LONDON


The Media Launch of the 2017 Australian Ballet season recently took place at the Capitol theatre rather than its usual home, the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House. However, for a good part of the forthcoming season the Joan Sutherland will be shut for several months for an upgrade of its stage machinery. The Australian Ballet requested the Capitol theatre  to stage its 2017 season and the Capitol was happy to oblige.

David McAllister, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet.
David McAllister, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet.

The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister and the Executive Director Libby Christie announced the 2017 program combining classic and contemporary works, the season showcases the artistry of dance with story ballets, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, and Nutcracker – The Story Of Clara, and inspires awe with Faster and Symphony In C.

Libby Christie, Executive Director pf The Australian Ballet.
Libby Christie, Executive Director pf The Australian Ballet.

For comprehensive details about the Australian Ballet’s’ 2017 season visit The Australian Ballet’s website –

Robyn Hendricks and Kevin Jackson

All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c). Featured photo-left to right- Kevin Jackson, Robyn Hendricks, Amber Scott, Benedicte Bemet, Ty King-Wall.


Strong, striking and dramatic with some powerful performances, the Royal Ballet’s FRANKENSTEIN, choreographed by Liam Scarlett, looms massively onto the screen. It is the latest in the Palace Opera and Ballet season. A co-production between the Royal Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet, the work is closely based on the supernatural Gothic thriller by Mary Shelley – a story of scientific development and love, the piece also raises very important questions about life and creation .

Liam Scarlett’s choreography is challenging and athletic. There are some intricate interlocking ensemble sections ( eg the wedding waltzes) and the pas de deux include some very difficult lifts. Some of it is reminiscent of Macmillan’s and Ashton’s work. Continue reading THE ROYAL BALLET’S PRODUCTION OF FRANKENSTEIN @ COVENT GARDEN LONDON



This  is a wonderful, quite mesmerising  dance documentary screening as part of the Sydney Film Festival.

RESET is an intimate, behind the scenes look at the work of Benjamin Millepied. Many people will know Millepied for his work on the movie Black Swan  and his marriage to the film’s lead actress Natalie Portman. At the time of the filming Millepied was the Artistic Director of the Paris Opera Ballet. We follow his journey up to the gala premiere of his new work Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward (This piece was reviewed by me for the Guide when it screened in November last year).

There are wonderful sequences of the dancers in class and rehearsal. We learn about the decision process that went through in choosing sixteen of the dancers from the Corps de Ballet. We also learn about the long history of the Paris Opera Ballet, its importance in the ballet world and how Millepied how has been attempting to introduce changes to the Company’s bureaucracy. (See the movie La Danse for the previous regime). Continue reading RESET – A NEW DOCUMENTARY ON BENJAMIN MILLEPIED



Ballerina1“She always stood out. She had what you can’t teach and you can’t learn. She had a fire.”  Susan Fales-Hill.

Balletomanes will love this. This is  a very intimate portrait of Misty Copeland as we follow her life, see performances from backstage, and follow her struggle to return to performing after a major operation. Whilst this doco may leave a little to be desired in its technical aspects, this is a very rewarding film.

Readers might be familiar with her autobiography Life In Motion, published in  2014, as well as her children’s book, Firebird. Copeland has also featured on the cover of Time magazine and is the face of the “I will what I want” campaign for Under Armour.

Copeland was the first Afro-American dancer to be accepted into the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, established some 75 years ago.

I was lucky enough to see the American Ballet Theatre perform when they were in Brisbane back in 2014 but sadly she wasn’t among the performers. Continue reading A BALLERINA’S TALE- TELLS THE STORY OF THE GREAT AMERICAN BALLERINA MISTY COPELAND



This is a beautifully danced, exquisitely crafted revival devised by Peter Wright.

The  version has now been around for about 25 years and has had over 550 performances yet it is still riveting and seems as fresh as if it was its first season.

Act 1 is mostly in russet colours, Act 2 by contrast an eerie woodland glade with Giselle’s rough cross.

The orchestra under the dynamic inspired baton of Barry Wordsworth was in superb form.

The corps de ballet were excellent in both acts as individualized peasants in Act 1 and the female corps of the Willis in Act 2 were menacing and powerful, breathing and pulsating as one. The ‘peasant pas de deux’ is, with this version, presented as a bubbling, charming pas de six led by Yuhui Choe and Alexander Campbell.

Nunez was magnificent as Giselle. In Act 1, especially at first, we see Giselle as vibrant and sunny, full of love and life, blushing and giggly with nerves when she interacts with Albrecht- enchanting, hardly believing her luck when she is crowned Queen of the Vintage. Their pas de deux was splendid.

Once she realizes she has been betrayed she is shattered, her mind fragmented, seeing only otherworldly things. Her mad scene was extremely powerful.

In Act 2 she was a whisper of a haunted, fragile, loving ghost, feather light. Technically she was in tremendous form in both acts and there was an emphasis on the ‘Romantic ‘ line of the body especially the arms as seen in the original 1841 lithographs .

As Albrecht, Muntagirov was delightful with incredible technique , beautifully stretched feet, soaring jetes ,cabrioles and entrechats. He moves instinctively with aristocratic grace and elegance blended with youthful enthusiasm. He is also a marvellous partner.

Muntagirov plays Albrecht as a rather caddish, spoiled playboy (observe the reaction of his squire Wilfred who helps Albrecht disguise himself before he flirts with Giselle ) but is shocked at the end of Act 1 with Giselle’s death and is heartbroken in Act 2.

Bennet Garside is splendid as Hilarion who also in love with Giselle. He is rather foxlike in appearance and wears a jacket of skins and furs revealing his trade.

Christina Arestis as Bathilde, suffering from an attack of ennui, is stunning in an incredible beaded dress as if she had stepped out of a Renaissance painting. (Interestingly, in this version Giselle touches the drape of her sleeve not the hem of her skirt).

Berthe’s mime sequence as played by Elizabeth McGorian, gives one shivers. Do we get a sense of untold subtext and hidden backstory here?!

Tall, proud and imperious Itziar Mendizabal was terrific, icy, implacable and technically excellent as Myrtha, Queen of the Willis. I am afraid, however, she looked like a transfer from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

This was a very thoughtful and delightful revival of this classic work with the highlight the magnificent dancing .

Running time allow 2 hours 45 including one interval. The film also  features a short ‘behind the scenes ‘ screening and interviews before and during the interval.

The Royal  Ballet’s production of Giselle is playing selected arthouse cinemas between the 6th and 11th May.



Taming Of The Shrew- second
The Taming of the Shrew is generally extremely difficult to bring off in this day and age. However this is a contemporarized, dazzling choreographed and danced version that will have you cheering at the end.

In the ballet world the most well known version of this Shakespearean work previously was  by John Cranko (1969).

This is a new version specifically worked for the Bolshoi by Maillot and absolutely sizzles. Maillot condenses the complicated plot of what perhaps is probably the most erotic and “politically incorrect” of Shakespeare’s plays to focus mainly on the central characters: the aggressive, haughty, bad-tempered Katherina — the ‘’ shrew ‘’ of the title — who scares away all would be suitors and is contrasted with her sister, the sweet and good Bianca, who, according to tradition, must wait to be married until after Katherina is wed. Continue reading BOLSHOI BALLET PRESENTS THE TAMING OF THE SHREW


The Nutrcaker2

The Royal Ballet weave their magic in an Peter Wright’s splendiferous, spectacular version of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet.

It is a sumptuous, quite traditional version, which has been around for about 30 years now and retains the Petipa /Ivanov choreography and it has to be said, unlike some versions of the work, actually makes a lot of dramatic sense.

The production is set roughly in the early part of the nineteenth century. In Act 1 the Stahlbaum’s house is luxuriously furnished and in Act 2 the sugar garden of the palace is iced to perfection. Continue reading PALACE OPERA AND BALLET PRESENTS THE ROYAL BALLET IN THE NUTCRACKER



With this screening ballet lovers are in for a great treat with the wonderful Paris Opera Ballet bringing us an extraordinary quadruple bill of four famous Diaghilev Ballets Russes works that are  very rarely performed on the contemporary stage. The performances took place as part of the Company’s Centenary program in 2009.

The ballets have been lovingly recreated and beautifully danced. It felt almost like being in a time machine and being able to see these works at their premieres. Three of the works have links to the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky.

At the start of the twentieth century, Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes overthrew conventions and led the way in modernity, bringing together painters, musicians and choreographers of the avant garde. The artistic elite of the era was brought together in a dazzling team of stellar greats. They included artists of the calibre of Debussy, Stravinsky, Falla, Picasso, Bakst, Massine, Nijinsky, Fokine …. Continue reading PARIS OPERA BALLET BALLETS RUSSES



This breathtaking production by the Bolshoi Ballet of John Neumeier’s Lady of the Camellias is full of shattering, overwhelming tempestuous passion that had some audience members in tears at the end.

This is the Neumeier version originally created for the Stuttgart Ballet in 1978 telling the story of Marguerite Gauthier and Armand Duval as in the Dumas novel, the opera la Traviata and Ashton’s ballet. It is a tale of tragic true love interwoven with the story of Manon Lescaut and Des Greiux (for example Marguerite and Armand attend a performance of a ballet version of Manon and identify with the characters). The ballet uses the delicate yet volcanically passionate music of Chopin. The orchestra under the direction of Pavel Sorokin was splendid.

The ballet, set in 1847, is told in flashbacks of Armand’s memories and opens Phantom of the Opera like with the auction of Marguerite’s effects and Armand, distraught, arriving late and confronting his father. Continue reading THE BOLSHOI BALLET PRESENTS THE LADY OF THE CAMELLIAS



Can you hear them? Here dwell the spirits of the great artists of the past”. One of the leading theatrical impresarios of all time, Paolo Grassi, said this of the Teatro Alla Scala, and this is what makes La Scala unique – it is haunted by the invisible ghosts and voices of some of the greatest in opera history, including icons like Verdi, Puccini,Toscanini, Pavarotti and Callas.

In this glorious film brought to us by Luca Lucini and Silvia Corbetta, the audience has unprecedented behind the scenes access to one of the most exclusive popular temples of the elite performing arts in the world and its fascinating history spanning over more than 200 years. There are dazzling shots of the huge interior of the lavish, golden auditorium. Continue reading TEATRO ALLA SCALA : TEMPLE OF WONDERS



For the sixth consecutive year Sharmill Films are bringing ballet lovers filmed versions of four ballets presented by the legendary Moscow ballet Company. The first in time is this splendid, very traditional, terrifically danced production of GISELLE.

The ballet was clearly filmed with effective use of close up at times while at others pulled back so we could see the patterns of the choreography ( for example, in the peasant revels and the intricacies of the work for the Willis).

GISELLE is regarded as a cornerstone example of the Romantic ballet, a major test piece for both the ballerina particularly and her partner.

Act 1 is mostly bathed in russet Autumnal colours, whilst Act 2 is a ghostly woodland glade. It is interesting to note that in this version there is no chilling mime solo for Berthe , Giselle’s mother telling the story of the legend of the Wilis. Nor is Giselle crowned Queen of the Harvest Festival (although there is a Bacchus like figure who sits atop a wine barrel leading the celebrations). And in this version Hilarion is called Hans and the ‘Peasant pas de deux’ is shown as being part of the general festival celebrations.

The Orchestra of Bolshoi Ballet performed terrifically under Pavel Klinichev. 

The ensemble of the corps de ballet gave fine performances in each act;  as villagers in Act 1 or, for the women, Willis in Act 2 . The peasant pas de deux were  marvellously danced too by Daria Khokhlova and Igor Tsvirko.

The two lead roles were wonderfully danced. Both Giselle and Albrecht were convincingly enamoured of each other with little flashes of detail in the acting throughout Act 1 increasing the drama.

Svetlana Zakharova as Giselle was sensational. She breathlessly dazzles in her interpretation of the role. In Act 1 she was a shy, innocent beautiful village girl blossoming under Albrecht’s attention. The pas de deux in Act1 was joyous. Her ‘mad scene’ was shattering, grippingly danced and acted, her broken almost uncomprehending desolation made believable.

Svetlana  has command of a very light upper body and soft high jumps combined with steely, assured pointe work and fast fleet footwork even more noticeable in Act 2.

In Act 2 as Giselle’s ghost she was a fragile whisper invisible to Albrecht yet he could feel her presence.(The two main pas de deux in Act 2 were ravishing – the transition from arabesque to turns and developes were refined and elegant, the travelling lifts and poses with floating arms handled brilliantly).

Handsome Sergei Polunin as Albrecht was tremendous. In Act 1 he is cheekily impressive,  a bit of a playboy with a dazzling smile, genuinely in love with Giselle and shocked and grieving at her unexpected death. The appearance of Bathilde rattles him. In Act 2 he has a very posh glittering black top with white inserts in the black sleeves.

Technically he was superb with brilliant soft jumps, high elevation,  pantherine’ ballon and impeccable finish. He is also a tremendous actor, – in Act2 we see princely brooding and despair.

Ekaterina Shipulina as Myrtha , with her photogenic cheekbones, was cold, imperious and regally implacable as the Queen of the Willis, ignoring Hans’ pleas for his life and condemning Albrecht to death as well. The demanding choreography included cabrioles, brises and testing jumps and tours as well as gliding bourees , all of which were excellently performed , creating a chilling characterization.

The corps of Willis in Act 2 was precise and menacing. They breathed and pulsated as one.

Young, handsome Denis Savin as the woodsman Hans acted and danced terrifically. In Act1 he unwitting betrays Albrecht’s double life causing tragedy and in Act 2 is terrified and driven to his death by the Willis.

This was a terrific traditional version gloriously danced by its two principals.

Running time – 2 hours including introduction and interviews before and during interval.

THE BOLSHOI BALLET ON SCREEN : GISELLE screens at selected arthouse cinemas from 27th  February 27.



With this great double bill the Palace Opera and Ballet season gives ballet lovers the opportunity to enjoy two fine examples of the definitive Ashton style which helped to shape British dance .

RHAPSODY opened the programme, a pure abstract dance piece which was created in 1980 to celebrate the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday , with Baryshnikov in the fiendishly demanding main role. The piece features a very demanding ballerina role (you can see the Fonteyn influence in the choreography) and an ensemble of a dozen supporting dancers.

The music was Rachmaninov’s lush, romantic Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The Orchestra was in great form with soloist Robert Clark on piano. Continue reading THE ROYAL BALLET IN RHAPSODY/THE TWO PIGEONS


carlos-acosta Carlos3 Carlos2

Carlos Acosta is one of the most well known dancers of our times, famous internationally. This book is published to mark Acosta’s farewell season, and is a very exciting retrospective seeking to preserve and capture most of what are regarded as his greatest performances with The Royal Ballet.

Released in Australia by Currency Press, the book is a tribute to his popularity and success with international audiences since 1998 .

A large, beautiful coffee table  book it documents Acosta’s seventeen year career with the Royal Ballet. There are over 150 assorted photos of Acosta on stage and in rehearsal. The photos are spectacular and show him in dynamic, striking poses from his performances, in leading roles, as Basilio in Don Quixote, as Des Grieux in Manon, Romeo in Macmillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Albrecht in Giselle, and Siegfried in Swan Lake in which he danced the principal roles. Continue reading CARLOS ACOSTA @ THE ROYAL BALLET

Palace Opera and Ballet Season: The Royal Ballet Quadruple Bill


Raining roses and with emotional speeches at the end this was a very special screening. Part of the Palace Opera And Ballet season, the Royal Ballet’s Quadruple Bill was filmed at Carlos Acosta’s farewell to the stage.

The film’s presenters were Darcy Bussell and Fiona Bruce with interviews before the show and during the intervals. The clean crisp photography translated the show very well from stage to screen.

The programme began with Liam Scarlett’s Viscera. A sparse, abstract ballet (think similar to Forsythe or McGregor in style),the rippling, tumultuous score by Lowell Liebermann was replete with very complicated rhythms and juxtaposed melodies. Continue reading Palace Opera and Ballet Season: The Royal Ballet Quadruple Bill


La Scala- second

Part of this year’s Palace Opera and Ballet season we were very privileged to be able to see this special screening from La Scala, to celebrate the closing of the 2015 Milan World expo, bringing together some of the world’s finest ballet dancers.

The Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala played magnificently under the dynamic baton of David Coleman.

The complex program blended a mix of American, French, Russian and English choreographic styles. In my view,  the ‘English’ school, as represented by the MacmIllan pas de deux, was the least successful of the collection.

Traditional Russian ( Le Corsair, Spartacus , Don Quixote) was mixed with neo-classical and ultra contemporary styles.  Continue reading PALACE OPERA AND BALLET PRESENTS GALA DES ETOILES FROM LA SCALA MILAN



Part of the Palace Opera and Ballet season this latest dance offering featured a brilliantly danced triple bill from the Paris Opera Ballet.

This was Benjamin Millepied’s premiere programme, coming in his first season as the Artistic  Director of the Palace Opera Ballet. The performance filmed took place on Thursday 1st October.

Millepied introduced each of the three works and the film also showed short interviews also with a couple of the dancers. The works were performed in reverse chronological order. All three pieces were plotless, with very demanding and revealing choreography and very little set to speak of. The predominant colour throughout was blue, the dancing dazzling…

Millipied’s piece Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward was the opening work, an abstract work which featured sixteen members of the corps de ballet, rather than the usual soloists or etoiles (stars/principals).

The demanding choreography required laser sharpness and a very clean ‘line’. It was starkly, sparsely, ominously lit with just a couple of swinging overhead lamps. There was an eerie use of shadows and some snappy, controlled blackouts. The lighting and set design were jointly credited to United Visual Artists and Lucy Carter.

A bench stage right provided a resting place when needed for the performers who all stayed on stage for the duration of the performance. always on stage. Millepied’s choreography included posed sculptural group tableaux as well as some astonishing entwining pas de deux. At one point the men were like rocks, on the floor, anchoring the standing women, who displayed elegantly undulating, seaweed like arms .

One could see the Balanchine influence, (Millepied openly acknowledges his work has been influenced by both Balanchine and Robbins), as well  as inspirations from Forsythe and McGregor.

There were some breath taking pas de deux. The women, in metallic mesh leotards, had incredibly steely pointes and exhibited wonderful control. The men were in bluey- grey outfits. A long, fluid line was also demanded.

There was no emotion, the dancers were neutrally cool. The score by Nico Muhly crashed and pulsated and like the work of the dancers was driven, relentless, and almost other worldly.

The next work performed was  Opus 19/The Dreamer, a work originally created for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Patricia McBride in 1979. The piece opened with a lovely sculptural tableaux of a chorus of six ladies in blue and a single male dancer in white. This was  a poetic, dreamlike work about a male dancer searching for his beloved.

Mathieu Ganio had a sensational opening solo. The main ballerina,  Amandine Albisson for this performance, wore blue, but a slightly different shade to the other ladies.

Interestingly, in this work I was reminded of Balanchine’s style – there were allusions to his Prodigal Son and Apollo, and also traditional Petipa works such as Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty .

The dancers performed to Prokofiev’s glorious music.  The choreography, at times, was sharp and spiky, at other times lyrical. There were some extraordinary pas de deux and some “Russian” style lifts. One pas de deux in particular was sort of Orpheus and Eurydice like as Ganio refused to look at Albisson’s face.

In another hypnotic pas de deux embodying ‘The Idealised Woman’ there was extensive use of pas de bouree on pointe around the male. In one segment there was a strong, challenging dance for the seven men and a slinky, emphatic duet for the main couple.

The final work was Balanchine’s 1947 work Theme and Variations performed to Tchaikovsky music. This work represented the choreographer’s nostalgic return to his Russian Imperial Ballet heritage and featured plenty of tutus, tiaras and the like.

The work featured allusions to works such as Swan Lake and Nutcracker, both musically and choreographically. There were echoes of the Grand pas de deux at the end of Sleeping Beauty as well as its final polonaise.

Theme and Variations was full of Balanchine’s trademark fast, fleet footwork yet it also demanded extreme control especially in the adage. There was an intricate interweaving/folding in/out for the corps de ballet of women and the ballerina.

Leading lady, Valentine Colasante, was  dazzling, cool, elegant yet also refined and regal. Simply glorious! François Alu, in the Prince role,  featured in some tremendous, showy solos, and displayed ease and grace in his numerous spectacular turns and jumps. What a terrific, fluid line and glorious soft ballon! What a splendid way to end this all American yet made in France evening!

The Palace Opera and Ballet season presentation of ROBBINS, MILLEPIED, BALANCHINE screened in cinemas between the 13th and 18th November. Running time 2 hours and 30 minutes including one interval.