Posts filed under: 2010

Season’s greetings

What are you getting up to this festive season? We asked dancers and staff what’s in store for them …

“Laughs, champagne and a dozy nap on that one special day when my family can celebrate being together again”
Dana Stephensen, Coryphée

“There’ll be two days of presents, yummy food and Christmas songs. Christmas is magic and even more special with a two-year-old who adores Santa”
Lucinda Dunn, Principal Artist

“I’ll be in Japan having a winter Christmas with my family! It will be very exciting to be home for the holidays!
Reiko Hombo, Soloist

22 December 2010

Comment of the month: July

We’ve made it half way through 2010, and we’re celebrating with another comment of the month giveaway! Comment on blog articles during the month of July for your chance to win a poster featuring Luke Ingham in full flight and Vivienne Wong en pointe wearing adorable sporty shorts.

Comments flooded in during the month of June, but we can’t go past Behind Ballet regular Alice who shared how much she is looking forward to Tim Harbour’s mainstage debut. Congratulations, Alice!

Luke Ingham and Vivienne Wong. Photograph by Jean Francois Campos

6 July 2010

In conversation with Carl Vine

Set in Vienna in the early 1900s, Graeme Murphy’s The Silver Rose is a lavishly told story of romantic intrigue. Composer Carl Vine, a long-time collaborator of Murphy’s, revisited his personal orchestral collection to compile the score. The Silver Rose premiered in Munich in 2005 and next year Australian audiences will encounter the passionate work when The Australian Ballet performs it in four capital cities. We chatted to Carl Vine about how you go about creating a score for one of the world’s favourite choreographers.

The Silver Rose is made up of several individual scores. Can you explain the process you went through pulling them all together?

The scores in The Silver Rose were written over a period of 20 years, yet they show many common threads in style and content. Once I had thoroughly familiarised myself with the original scenario it was a matter of scanning through my back catalogue for full movements of works of suitable orchestral scale that had dramatic impact suitable for each section of action. Some transitions between sections didn’t work but others did, which I think was largely due to the convincing logic of the storyline, as well as this inherent stylistic consistency. That still left plenty of exciting juxtapositions and the simple task of choosing the most exciting ones for the final cut. (more…)

16 September 2009

When David met Coppélia

The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister knows the tale of Coppélia all too well. Coppélia has everything: flirtation, feisty lovers and a Frankensteinian mad scientist who brings dolls to life. The title role of Franz, the boy-about-town who adores charming the ladies, was David’s very first leading role. “Oh, I was a baby,” David says, rolling his eyes with a grin. “I was just a small fry – but it was still very exciting. It was just one of those dreams come true.”

Franz was the first principal role David played, and it was one of the last before he retired as a dancer. He performed it every time The Australian Ballet staged the work between 1985 and 2000. The character of Franz was a real coming-of-age role for David. “I really felt like I grew up in the role,” David says. The role of Franz was a perfect fit on David – until he felt it was too familiar. “By 2000 I had done a lot of Franzes and I was still able to call on the boy-about-town character,” he says, “but by then I sort of felt like I was just bunging it on as opposed to when I first did it and that was me.” David is now on the other side of the stage, bringing Coppélia to life and handing the baton of Franz to male dancers of the company. (more…)

Making it to the mainstage

Tim Harbour has been met with countless successes, and won countless hearts, during his creative journey. He made his choreographic debut with Sunken Waltz for the Bodytorque season of 2005, and in 2007 he changed gears by retiring from dance – after 13 years – to focus wholeheartedly on his choreographic career. Tim has only risen since. After choreographing works for The Dancers Company, Christopher Wheeldon’s Morphoses in New York, The Queensland Ballet and West Australian Ballet, Tim will make his debut on The Australian Ballet’s mainstage in 2010 with a work called Halcyon.

Tim’s work has been praised for its lightness, fluidity and poetic undertones. His breathtaking work, Wa, for Bodytorque received particularly glowing praise, with The Australian writing: “the very air quivered with a multitude of meanings … Harbour is a thoughtful and articulate man who can translate ideas and emotions into movement with clarity. He clearly understands music too.”

Halycon will be performed alongside two works by fellow choreographer Stephen Baynes for the triple bill Edge of night. Tim talked to us about taking the path to the mainstage.

Will your work lean toward classical ballet, or will it have a contemporary edge?
This is always hard to define because ‘classical’ or ‘contemporary’ are relative terms. To me most of what I do feels quite classical. I’d like to think that I stay open to using whatever physicality is going to appear most expressive but to qualify that movement with the form and structures often associated with classical ballet.

How did Bodytorque equip you with the confidence and inspiration to become the choreographer you are today?

Bodytorque was tremendous both because it had limitations and luxury; limitations in terms of the short rehearsals, and no budget for a design component. All expression and atmosphere had to be conjured purely via steps. And luxurious because you are choreographing on some of the best dancers in the country.

How did your work for The Dancer’s Company Songs of Light represent your style?

I hope that every piece I make has a few beautiful poetic moments and I think Songs of Light was successful in this way. I don’t always achieve this but it’s not for lack of trying!

Edge of night plays in Melbourne from 26 August – 4 September and Sydney from 11- 29 November
Subscription packages for The Australian Ballet’s 2010 season are on sale now

Artists of The Dancers Company in Tim Harbour’s  Songs of Light. Photography Jess Bialek

Dame Peggy van Praagh: an indomitable spirit

With cane in hand, and a fiercely stubborn air, Dame Peggy van Praagh perfectly fit the dance teacher cliché. Peggy was The Australian Ballet’s founding Artistic Director, not only bringing success to the company, but invigorating Australian ballet, bringing the country’s dance up to an international standard. If you were a young dancer who caught Peggy’s eye there were great things in store for you. David McAllister, current Artistic Director, and Colin Peasley, the longest-serving employee at The Australian Ballet, were two boys – dancing decades apart – whom Peggy gave a real chance.

Peggy van Praagh was retired by the time David McAllister joined the company, but she returned to coach classes for the 1982 staging of Giselle for the regional touring arm, The Dancers Company. With little hesitation Peggy selected the wide-eyed David to play the peasant pas de deux. He was only in his second year. Two years later, David had reached grand new heights and was performing Franz in her interpretation of Coppélia. Peggy once pulled David aside and asked, “Do you know the dancer Graeme Murphy?” David replied that he had. “You remind me of him.” David was thrilled to be compared to the performer. Popping David’s quickly inflating ego Peggy declared: “You poke your neck forward like he does”. David continued to rise, and rise, throughout the company and now looks back on his experiences with Peggy fondly. He knows it was her doggedness and attention to detail that set the high standards of The Australian Ballet in the early days.  “She was controversial in some ways but she really spoke her mind. She told you exactly what she thought,” David remembers. “She tended to call a spade a spade.” (more…)