The Australian Ballet has launched its program to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2012.
Revealing the season repertoire in Melbourne today, Artistic Director David McAllister announced new commissions – including a traditional Swan Lake – along with classic revivals of audience favourites, an all-Australian dance party and a special international gala. This milestone season is the culmination of a three-year program showcasing the company's rich history and achievements. McAllister says the championing of original works is a bold move into the future.
In this historic year, it was important that we honour our past by bringing back some of the masterworks that have shaped our identity. In the Icons triple bill, we're reviving Sir Robert Helpmann's trailblazing creation The Display from the 60s; Glenn Tetley's groundbreaking fusion of classical and contemporary in the seminal 70s work Gemini; and Graeme Murphy's moving portrayal of a young male dancer in his 1980 work Beyond Twelve. This program is a fantastic opportunity for ballet fans of all generations to glimpse a snapshot of the company throughout the decades.
But as we acknowledge the past, we're also looking forward, with four new ballets from the leading lights of Australian choreography – Graeme Murphy, Gideon Obarzanek, Stephen Page and newcomer Tim Harbour – which are boldly future-focused.
This really is our biggest season ever. There's traditional full-length works mixed in with more experimental triple bills, extensive national and regional tours, a free outdoor performance and a host of Education programs. We want to share our 50th birthday with as many people as possible!
As with any birthday The Australian Ballet has been receiving best wishes. Richard Bonynge wrote
Congratulations to The Australian Ballet on five decades of spectacular work. Like opera, ballet is an important art form that enriches our country's cultural landscape. Australia should be proud of the worldclass artists we have performing on our stages and nurture these arts into the future. I look forward to many splendid future performances and I hope to share your 50th anniversary celebrations in 2012.
And American Ballet Theatre's David Hallberg said,
The impression The Australian Ballet continues to make is one of modernised tradition. It has a history like no other, but does not simply rest on its past. It has created its own standard and path in the
dance world. From seminal works such as Murphy's Swan Lake, to Baynes' highly imaginative and expressive pieces, I am constantly interested in its future just as much as its own traditions. It has my
highest respect and fullest attention.
The 50th anniversary 2012 season line up is:
Infinity – Onegin – Let's Dance – Icons – Swan Lake – 50th Anniversary Gala – Romeo & Juliet – New York international tour
details can be found on the company's site.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.