The Australian Ballet will visit London's Royal Opera House during the first week of August. It had been announced that the company would be touring with Kunstkamer – a work by several choreographers that the Australian dancers presented last year, and with a live video stream of the production.
However, German director Marco Goecke was one of the four choreographers of Kunstkamer. After the furore earlier this year when he smeared dog faeces on the face of a critic who had written a negative review of one of his works (and as a result, he was fired as ballet director in Hanover), David Hallberg, The Australian Ballet's artistic director, decided on a change of programme.
I think everybody would agree that Goecke's behaviour wasn't acceptable – Hallberg told the Times – and unfortunately has consequences, so we made the decision to change the repertoire for London. I wanted to show the company in the most positive and celebratory light and if there is something celebratory and sparkling, it's Jewels.
It is a brave choice as The Australian Ballet has never danced Jewels before, but it is certainly an appropriate choice, as the company is celebrating its 60th anniversary – its diamond jubilee. The London season will see five performances of Jewels and a one-off 60th Anniversary Celebration performance featuring some of the company's signature repertoire.
The 2023 London Tour will be the first international tour under Hallberg's leadership, and its first since 2019. The company first came to the UK in 1965, with subsequent visits in 1973, 1976, 1988, 1992, 2005, 2008 and 2016.
Jewels is the ultimate showcase of a ballet company's technical virtuosity and stylistic refinement – says Hallberg – It is the ideal work with which to introduce our dancers to the audiences in the UK. Each jewel in this ballet has equal beauty and power. Emeralds, soft and mysterious. Rubies, sharp and stylised. Diamonds, brilliant and sparkling. It is a visual feast for the balletic eye.
Founded by the London-born Dame Peggy van Praagh [the first artistic director from 1962 until 1974], the Australian Ballet's ties with the UK are many and deep. The Royal Opera House was a special place for me during my career as a dancer. I cannot wait to bring Australia's national ballet company back to this storied theatre after an absence of 35 years, reinforcing the company's reputation for excellence on the world stage.
Wednesday 2 August 7:30PM
Thursday 3 August 7:30PM
Friday 4 August 7:30PM
Saturday 5 August 1:30PM
Saturday 5 August 7:30PM
Tickets: £4 – £115
60th Anniversary Celebration
Sunday 6 August 1:30PM
Tickets: £7 – £135
Orchestra: Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Conductor: Jonathan Lo
+44 (0)20 7304 4000
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.