The Australian Ballet

“The Cherry on a Sundae”

“Harlequinade”
The Australian Ballet
Arts Center Melbourne / State Theatre
Melbourne, Australia
June 24, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. B.Bemet (Columbine), B.Chynoweth (Harlequin), and ensemble, “Harlequinade” by M.Petipa, additional choreography by A.Ratmansky; The Australian Ballet 2022 © J.Busby“The cherry on a sundae” – that’s what the Australian Ballet’s artistic director David Hallberg called “Harlequinade”, the latest (and this season’s last) addition to the company’s repertoire. “Harlequinade” – a popular Petipa-ballet in imperial Russia – premiered in 1900 in St. Petersburg, and was last performed in its original form at the end of the 1920s. Working from the notations and numerous other documents archived in the Nikolai Sergeyev collection at Harvard University, Alexei Ratmansky and his wife Tatiana reconstructed the choreography just as he has done with previous Petipa classics. American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and the Australian Ballet collaborated on the revival. Four years after its premiere at Costa Mesa, California, the two-act commedia dell’arte romp finally hit Melbourne’s stage. I saw the livestream presented on June 24th by Catherine Murphy and Hallberg. (more…)

An Asset

“Kunstkamer”
The Australian Ballet
Arts Center Melbourne / State Theatre
Melbourne, Australia
June 10, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

 1. Ensemble, “Kunstkamer” by S,León, P,Lightfoot, C,Pite, and M.Goecke; The Australian Ballet 2022 © J.BusbyAustralian audiences aren’t particularly familiar with the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). Australian Ballet artistic director David Hallberg scored a coup by adding to their repertory “Kunstkamer” – a dance theater piece created in 2019 on the occasion of NDT’s 60th anniversary and as yet never danced by another company. (The Australian Ballet celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.) And Hallberg was not only able to import a collaboration between four of NDT’s defining choreographers (Paul Lightfoot and Sol León – until 2020 the company’s figureheads – as well as associate choreographers Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke), but also used this as a chance to interrupt his retirement from the stage and participate in the piece himself. Putting aside the director’s scepter to take on a role that was weird rather than flattering required courage – which Hallberg mustered. To me, it seems there was no better way to deepen his connection to the dancers. (more…)

Brilliant!

“Anna Karenina”
The Australian Ballet
Arts Center Melbourne / State Theatre
Melbourne, Australia
March 08, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. R.Hendricks (Anna Karenina) and C.Linnane (Count Alexei Vronsky), “Anna Karenina” by Y.Possokhov, The Australian Ballet 2022 © J.BusbyWhile western cancel culture appears to be targeting all things Russian, the Australian Ballet points the way towards cooperation. This February, a ballet about an icon of Russian culture – Tolstoy’s epic novel “Anna Karenina” – premiered in Melbourne. Co-produced with the Joffrey Ballet and decorated with the 2021 Prix Benois for best choreography, it was a prime example of the uniting power of the arts. Its US-based choreographer Yuri Possokhov was born in Luhansk / Ukraine; the composer Ilya Demutsky, a frequent collaborator of Possokhov, is Russian. Valeriy Pecheykin, an Uzbeg working at Moscow’s Gogol Center, wrote the libretto. Set and costumes are by the British designer Tom Pye. Finn Ross, also a Brit, oversaw the video projections, and US-born David Finn created the lighting. (more…)