After 35 years, The Australian Ballet returns to the Royal Opera House in London in August 2023 as part of its 60th-anniversary celebrations. The company first came to the UK in 1965, with subsequent tours in 1973, 1976, 1988, 1992, 2005, 2008 and 2016.
The 2023 London Tour will be the first international tour for The Australian Ballet under the leadership of Artistic Director David Hallberg and will see the company perform Kunstkamer, one of the most ambitious contemporary dance productions to appear in its repertoire. For one night only there will be a 60th Anniversary Celebration showcasing The Australian Ballet’s repertoire.
The Royal Opera House was a special place for me during my career as a dancer and I am so excited to bring The Australian Ballet back to this storied theatre after an absence of 35 years, reinforcing the company’s reputation for excellence on the world stage.
The company will be in residence at The Royal Opera House from 2 until 6 August 2023.
The tour will involve 100 people with dancers, musicians, wardrobe, medical, technical, production and support staff, along with three shipping containers filled with sets and costumes.
Kunstkamer was created for Nederlands Dans Theater for its 60th anniversary and The Australian Ballet become the first company outside of NDT to perform Kunstkamer in April 2022 with standing ovations in Sydney and Melbourne.
Kunstkamer showcases the rich diversity of the dancers of The Australian Ballet – said Hallberg – while also highlighting the ground-breaking work of four of the most sought-after choreographers working today: Sol León, Paul Lightfoot, Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke.
Kunstkamer translates from the Dutch as ‘chamber of art’ or ‘art cabinet’. It draws inspiration from The Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, a 1734 book in four volumes by Dutch pharmacist, zoologist, and collector, Albertus Seba. At the intersection of science and art, a cabinet of curiosities brings together fascinating objects from around the world, displaying seemingly disparate items in ways that give them new meaning.
The result is a two-act contemporary ballet comprising many short movements, woven elegantly together with key dance motifs and recurring characters. This artfully arranged selection of pieces wittily interrogates the possibilities of dance, from the most poetic pas de deux to the mesmerising, intricately choreographed group scenes, involving the entire company of dancers.
An eclectic musical roster includes a mix of live orchestral pieces, recorded songs, and works played at an old upright piano stationed onstage alongside the dancers, with music by Beethoven, Janis Joplin, Schubert, Arvo Pärt, Joby Talbot and Ólafur Arnalds, among others.
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.