LE CORSAIRE (The Pirate’s Story) is one of the world’s most loved ballets complete with pirates, beautiful maidens, romance and shipwrecks. A full length version of the classic has never before been staged by an Australian ballet company.
In 2011 Christopher Wheeldon created sustained narrative with ongoing character development, with his new classic ballet “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” a full-length work in three acts, for the Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House in Bow Street, Covent Garden, London. I am forever grateful that The Australian Ballet has carefully re-created this amazing fast-paced spectacular ballet, using the best of the best Australian ballet dancers and some guest artists, and is now available for Sydney audiences for a very limited time, after first being seen by Melbourne audiences.
This is the must see ballet this decade, so much better to experience live on stage, rather than watching The Royal Ballet September 2011 dvd version.
Brilliant family friendly ballet entertainment, has been adapted from Lewis Carroll’s childrens’ book. Christopher Wheeldon‘s always inventive and breathtaking choreography created for each famous character, is meticulously and gracefully combined with colour co-ordinated eclectic costumes by Bob Crowley, together with captivating colourful set designs also by Bob Crowley, all are a standout, and the famous plot has been blended with a memorable and thought provoking music score by Joby Talbot that contributes resonant depth to each well-remembered character. Banks of moving spots are used to create everything from black/white checker board flooring through to swimming in an ocean of tears.
Fully animated 4K high definition, bright video projection delivered the immediate ability to suspend disbelief, as Alice is seen to tumble and to fall down the rabbit hole, and provides the “drink me” Alice shrinking experience and then the “eat me” Alice expanding sequence, complete with the changing sizes of the wall of doors of the room that she tries to escape from. Gigantic Alice trapped in an ultra-tiny room, is a magicians delight with its delicious false perspective.
The Red Queen of Hearts is extremely tall, and later becomes extremely tall and wider, soon heralding the sudden and unexpected appearance of the Red King of Hearts. The Red Queen soon delivered howls of laughter from the children in the first night audience, so many wonderful things happen, and always suitable for all ages.
The captivating performance delivered by the tap-dancing Mad Hatter, drew applause from the well entertained audience. The full sized Cheshire Cat easily generated oohhs and aahhs from all, as did the brilliant full sized Caterpillar.
This Australian Ballet production, again and again, has absolutely perfect mises-en-scène optimally visualised for each and every complex scene, where the combination of choosing the perfect cast for each role, and every element of the set design and costumes and music soundtrack, have joined together to create a unique and very original ballet experience. Highly recommended.
Conductor: Nicolette Fraillon
Alice: Ako Kondo
Jack/The Knave of Hearts: Ty King-Wall
Lewis Carroll/The White Rabbit: Adam Bull
Mother/Queen of Hearts: Amy Harris
Father/King of Hearts: Steven Heathcote (Guest Artist)
Magician/Mad Hatter: Kevin Jackson
Raj/Caterpillar: Jarryd Madden
Duchess: Ben Davis
Wonderland Characters: Artists of The Australian Ballet and supernumeries.
Choreography Christopher Wheeldon
Music Joby Talbot orchestrated by Christopher Austin and Joby Talbot
Scenario Nicholas Wright
Set and costume design Bob Crowley
Lighting design Natasha Katz
Animated Projection designs Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington
Puppet concept and design Toby Olié
Magic consultant Paul Kieve
With Opera Australia Orchestra in Sydney
With Orchestra Victoria in Melbourne
THE ROYAL BALLET IN ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Bold, bright, colourful and exotic this is a wonderful revival by the Royal Ballet of Christopher Wheeldon’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND first seen in 2011. It is part of the Royal Opera House 2017/18 Live Cinema Season. Visually stunning it showcases some fabulous theatrical effects, wonderful dancing, and Wheeldon’s inspired, outstanding choreography. The work feels, at times, perhaps a little dominated by set and visual design values but it is a stunning visual feast and full of delightful whimsy.
Event Cinemas and Village Cinemas in partnership with Trafalgar Releasing will exclusively screen The Royal Opera House THE NUTCRACKER this December at nineteen cinemas across Australia as part of the Royal Opera House 2017/18 Live Cinema Season.
Featuring filmed performances from the world-renowned Royal Opera House in London, the program presents the very best opera and ballet from the iconic venue, captured in jaw-dropping detail for Australian audiences to enjoy as if they were there themselves.
Danced to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, the beautiful classical ballet will take audiences for a wonderful Christmas adventure alongside Clara and her enchanted Nutcracker doll.
A firm family favourite with Tchaikovsky’s mesmerizing score, a Christmas tree that magically grows, a battle between toy soldiers and an Army of Mice, and the famous role of the Sugar Plum Fairy danced by Royal Ballet Principal Sarah Lamb with her Prince, Principal dancer Steven McRae, this event presented by Darcey Bussell is not to be missed. Continue reading THE NUTCRACKER SCREENS THIS CHRISTMAS→
An intriguing but somewhat unsatisfying dance version of Tolstoy’s much loved epic novel, this is part of the Stage Russia screenings and come to us from the Vakhtangov Theatre choreographed by Angelica Cholina.
The ballet transfers very well from stage to screen, photographed cleanly and thoughtfully, with excellent use of appropriate close up .While the individual elements were great, with fine performances by an excellent cast, this production proved to be rather strange and disappointing.
Cholina has based this work on Tolstoy’s novel of sweeping love and despair which details the life of the eponymous Anna, a St. Petersburg aristocrat who is caught in a loveless marriage, against the backdrop of rigid late 19th century Russian society. Streamlining and abridging the novel, the adaptation is an analysis of (un)happy family life and also looks at the high echelons of society at the time and how emotions conflicted with social conventions. Tolstoy’s novel is widely considered a pinnacle in realist fiction.Continue reading STAGE RUSSIA’S PRODUCTION OF ‘ANNA KARENINA’ FROM THE VAKHTANGOV THEATRE→
As part of the Palace Opera and Ballet season, celebrating 70 years at the Royal Opera House, the Royal Ballet brings it season to a close with a tribute to its founder choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton.
The tribute comprised a marvellous triple bill featuring The Dream (1964), based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the non-narrative work Symphonic Variations (1946) to music by Franck (Ashton’s first work after World War 2), and then finally the 1963 passionate, tempestuous Marguerite and Armand (1963), based on La Dame Aux Camellias, created for the legendary partnership of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev to a Lizst sonata.
This particular performance also marks the retirement from the stage of principal Zenaida Yanowsky and at the end we see the extended curtain calls and appearances by several of her leading men who have partnered her over the years in various roles.
Opening the program was a delightful revival of The Dream. The forest clearing set was enchanting and beautifully lit, the Mendelssohn music gloriously played by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the energetic baton of Emmanuel Plasson with the London Oratory Junior Choir giving a fine performance. The fairies were absolutely enchanting. Continue reading PALACE OPERA AND BALLET : ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS AN ASHTON TRIPLE BILL→
With the eight most promising ballet students Australia can muster and top dance troupes vying for other awards, this is one of the most popular annual events in the Sydney Eisteddfod calendar.
Sponsored by The Guillermo Keys-Arenas Dance Trust and supplemented by the Sydney Eisteddfod Jubilee Fund, the total prize value exceeds $36,000, often being recognised as the most valuable awards in the Southern Hemisphere, and attracts very keen competition.
Talented dancers who have been nurtured by the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarships have been sourced by the leading ballet companies around the world for decades. The Australian Ballet’s Leanne Stojmenov and Adam Bull and The Royal Ballet’s Steven McRae are shining examples.
While the ballet finalists delight with their grace, in complete contrast, the wild and wonderful troupes competing in Dance Group Final amaze with their seemingly impossible moves and tricks.
The Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship & Dance Group Final will take place on Sunday 30th July at 2.30pm at the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House.
Cost: A Reserve: Adult $69, Concession $59; B Reserve (restricted viewing): $55.
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.
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.
f we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here. While these visions did appear – A 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 .
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 .
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.
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.
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.
For comprehensive details about the Australian Ballet’s’ 2017 season visit The Australian Ballet’s website – http://australianballet.com.au.
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 .
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→
“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.
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.
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 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.
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→