British Liaisons with The Australian Ballet

February 10, 2011

Ballet, Press Releases

 The Australian Ballet celebrates a long-standing
love affair with British ballet in a triple bill
spanning three generations.

British Liaisons features three of the biggest
names in British choreography. Sharing the illustrious bill are Royal Ballet founder
Ninette de Valois, the inimitable Sir Kenneth MacMillan and contemporary ballet legend Christopher Wheeldon.

British Liaisons opens in Sydney on 3 May
before travelling to Melbourne on 25 August.

Two of the ballets on this bill, de Valois’
and MacMillan’s Concerto, are
making a much anticipated return after a considerable break from The Australian Ballet’s repertoire. Concerto has not been performed in
its entirety since its company debut in 1974 and
Checkmate was last staged in full in 1992.

Completing the trio is Wheeldon’s modern masterpiece, After the Rain©, which makes a welcome return after its critically acclaimed
2007 premiere.

Artistic Director David McAllister chose these
works to recognise the important role British choreographers have played in shaping
The Australian Ballet.

“British ballet was crucial in the development of
our own distinctive Australian style of movement”, explains McAllister.

“The Royal Ballet tour in 1956 under Ninette de Valois was a real turning point for ballet in this country. Not long after, her associate Peggy van Praagh moved to Australia permanently and went
on to become The Australian Ballet’s founding
artistic director.”

A timeless tale of love and betrayal, Checkmate
was gifted to The Australian Ballet by de Valois in 1986. With the role of the Red King conceived on Australian Sir Robert Helpmann, this ballet has a special significance to the company.

As each chess piece plays its part, relationships
are revealed and tested. The legendary score by Arthur Bliss adds further drama to the arresting choreography. Climaxing with a grand battle
between love and death, this game of chess is anything but boring.

Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, meanwhile,
is a pure classical ballet which demands
flawless technique. Created in 1966, it was the
first MacMillan work to enter The Australian
Ballet’s repertoire.Set to Dmitri Shostakovich’s stirring Piano Concerto No.2, it’s a piece that’s as thrilling for audiences
to watch as it is challenging for the dancers to perform.A seamless marriage of music and movement, Wheeldon’s After the Rain© is an intimate portrayal
of what he describes as “an unspoken love affair
that is consummated only onstage”.

A heartbreakingly tender pas de deux is the centrepiece of this work. After the Rain© achieves much in its one act, taking the audience on a
deeply rewarding journey.

As The Australian Ballet nears its 50th anniversary, British Liaisons is a fitting tribute to the company’s heritage.


Sydney 3 – 21 May
(20 performances)
Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House
with Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra

Melbourne 25 August – 3 September 2011
(11 performances)
the Arts Centre, State Theatre
with Orchestra Victoria

Bookings or 1300 369 741


Choreography Ninette de Valois
Music Arthur Bliss
Costume and set design E McKnight Kauffer
Original lighting design William Akers
reproduced by John Berrett

Choreography Sir Kenneth MacMillan
Music Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto
No. 2

Costume and set design Jürgen Rose
Original lighting design William Akers
reproduced by John Berrett

Choreography Christopher Wheeldon
Music Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa (first movement – Ludus) and Spiegel im Spiegel
Costume design Holly Hynes
Lighting design Mark Stanley
reproduced by John Berrett

– ends –




dancer in flesh colours leotard

Kirsty Martin After the Rain from British Liasons photo Justin Smith

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