Announcing a range of premieres and classic works, The Australian Ballet has proclaimed 2017 to be A Season of Wonderment.
With further performances of uniquely matched pair Nijinsky and Coppélia still come in 2016, the company today looked ahead to 2017 to announce a season that includes the return of much loved classics The Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker – The Story of Clara, the Australian premiere of internationally acclaimed ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland©, by Christopher Wheeldon, and another exciting mixed program of modern dance.
Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet David McAllister said, “It’s a season defined by exquisite performance and the adventures of three extraordinary women; we fall down the rabbit hole with Alice in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland©, we follow the life of a Russian ballerina who arrives in Australia in Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker – The Story of Clara, and then Princess Aurora leads a cast of fairytale characters as she searches for her Prince in The Sleeping Beauty.
“We also delve into the bold world of pure physical expression, giving our world-class dancers the chance to test the very limits of human movement, with our contemporary season Faster. Its classical counterpoint is Symphony in C, which sits alongside works by some of our most talented young choreographers.”
The first ballet for 2017 is the Brisbane premiere season of The Sleeping Beauty, staged by The Australian Ballet artistic director David McAllister in 2015. The lavish production, boasting opulent designs by Gabriella Tylesova, will return after only two years to Melbourne in June and Sydney in November. Television and cinema screenings of The Sleeping Beauty will hopefully have given a wider audience the desire to see the lavish production live on stage.
Celebrating its 25th birthday in 2017, Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker – The Story of Clara is a heartfelt tale of love, loss and lifelong passion. A radical retelling, this ballet was hailed as a masterpiece when Murphy created it for The Australian Ballet in 1992. It tells the story of an elderly Russian emigrant and former prima ballerina, dreaming of the triumphs and challenges of her youth, one hot Christmas Eve in Melbourne. Dreamlike set and costume designs by Kristian Fredrikson reveal Clara’s world in full colour. Tchaikovsky’s much-loved music underscores her journey. Nutcracker – The Story of Clara opens in Sydney in May, then Melbourne in June.
Following a successful model that has included Vanguard, 20:21 and Vitesse, a mixed program of modern dance will be staged. The 2017 program is entitled Faster. The titular piece by David Bintley is an Olympics-inspired work charting the exultant highs and devastating lows of elite athletes, accompanied by an energetic score from Australian composer Matthew Hindson.
A new work by Wayne McGregor has its Australian premiere with a commissioned score by Steve Reich complementing boundary-pushing choreography. First seen at Royal Ballet in 2008, Wayne McGregor’s abstract work Infra will have its Australian premiere. With a melancholic score by Steve Reich and design by Julian Opie, the piece is a moving meditation on human interactions. Resident choreographer with The Australian Ballet Tim Harbour reunites with architect Kelvin Ho and lighting designer Benjamin Cisterne, the team behind 2015’s explosive hit Filigree and Shadow, to create Squander and Glory, a brand new work for this season. Faster plays in Melbourne in March and Sydney in April.
Performed only in Sydney last year, mixed program Symphony in C will be seen in Melbourne in 2017. The featured piece is, of course, George Balanchine’s Symphony in C, a grand tribute to classical dance. The 30-minute piece will be accompanied by a gala program of dazzling divertissements, including Grand pas classique, pas de deux from Diana and Actéon and the final pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s 2005 ballet After the Rain. The program also includes new works by rising choreographic stars from within the company ranks, Richard House and Alice Topp.
Award winning internationally acclaimed choreographer Christopher Wheeldon will return to Australia in 2017 for the local premiere of 2011 ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland©. Joey Talbot’s music was the first full-length score for The Royal Ballet in 20 years. The premiere season at Royal Ballet featured Lauren Cuthbertson as Alice and Sergei Polunin as Jack, with renowned character actor Simon Russell Beale as The Duchess.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland© will premiere in Melbourne in September, before transferring to Sydney in December.
The Sleeping Beauty opens in Brisbane in February, before returning to Melbourne in June and Sydney in November.
Faster plays in Melbourne in March and Sydney in April.
Nutcracker – The Story of Clara opens in Sydney in May, then Melbourne in June.
Symphony in C plays in Melbourne in August.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland© opens in Melbourne in September and Sydney in December.
Note: Due to refurbishment of the Joan Sutherland Theatre at Sydney Opera House, the Sydney seasons of The Sleeping Beauty and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland© will be performed at Capitol Theatre, Sydney.
For full details, visit the website: The Australian Ballet.
2016 reviews of The Australian Ballet season by Man in Chair:
Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo in Coppélia: “The romance of the story was given a boost on opening night with the lead roles danced by newly engaged couple Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo.”
Alexandre Riabko; Kevin Jackson in Nijinsky: “Kevin Jackson’s intelligent, subtly nuanced performance as Vaslav Nijinsky is of an unwavering intensity.
Houston Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet: “Dance is threaded so naturally through the storytelling it is as if this was Shakespeare’s original intention.”
Amber Scott and Adam Bull in Swan Lake: “Still in their physical prime yet bearing the emotional intelligence that comes with maturity and extensive experience, the sensational work from the pair earned an all too rare standing ovation on opening night.”
A wide range of company members in Vitesse: “Vitesse features carefully curated modern works, high production values and thrilling ensemble work…”
Photos: #1 Justin Ridler; #2 Jeff Busby