With Dyad 1929 currently taking the stage on Ballet TV, we thought it was time for a new puzzle!
Commissioned in 2009 for the Company, Dyad 1929 was the first work performed by The Australian Ballet from Wayne McGregor, a then emerging choreographer. Unpicking themes of exploration, discovery and invention, this contemporary piece is the perfect example of the bold choreographic language McGregor is known for.
Swans for Relief have created a beautiful new video showing 32 premier ballerinas from 22 dance companies in 14 countires performing Le Cygne (The Swan) variation from Swan Lake. The 6 minute montage includes Australian dancers – in order of appearance – Stephanie Kurlow (Australia’s first Hijabi Ballerina), and Ako Kondo and Robyn Hendricks from The Australian Ballet.
Misty Copeland made history as the first African American Female Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. She is credited as saying dance is her ‘superpower’. New York based Misty has been using her star power to help uplift fellow dancers. She enlisted 31 of her ballerina friends to lace up their pointe shoes and raise money for coronavirus relief through her newly launched Swans for Relief. So far they have raised just under $250,000.
For more info about Swans for Relief, or ways to donate, click here.
We recently featured A Ballerina’s Tale, the documentary about Misty Copeland’s journey through dance in our list of top Ballet films to binge in isolation. See the rest of the list here.
Brett Chynoweth and Jill Ogai in The Australian Ballet’s 2019 production of Sylvia, photo Jeff Busby
Brett Chynoweth recently spoke to the ABC about what the life of a Principal Artist with The Australian Ballet looks like in our current situation.
Growing up in Melbourne, Brett began dancing at the age of five. He joined The Australian Ballet in 2009, after training at The Australian Ballet School. Brett was the recipient of the DR HC (Nuggett) Combes Travelling Scholarship which enabled him to train in New York and Toronto. He was promoted to Principal Artist at the end of 2018 and you can watch some of Brett’s performance highlights here.
While walking us through his daily routine, Brett reveals some of the difficulties of training at home, as well as the incredible support he, and all the dancers, are receiving from The Australian Ballet.
The Australian Ballet has introduced a Triple Bill Program to Ballet TV.
Andrew Wright Courtesy of the Australian Ballet
The Australian Ballet’s, Andrew Wright, Planned Giving and Patrons Representative, shares his insights on the upcoming triple bill program, featuring on Ballet TV.
After retiring from a 15-year career on stage with The Australian Ballet, Andrew joined the Philanthropy Team in 2019. A proud long-time company member, Andrew shares his unique experience as a dancer and draws on his knowledge of the upcoming works. Heinvites you to enjoy the Triple Bill Program. Available to view Thursday 14 May to Thursday 28 May.
Read Andrew’s thoughts on each piece, before watching on Ballet TV!
Triple Bill Program: Dyad 1929 (McGregor), Warumuk (Page), Narrative of Nothing (Murphy)
DYAD 1929 Artists of The Australian Ballet Photography by Branco Gaica
Commissioned for the Concord triple bill as part of the 2009 season, thiscreationwas the first work performed by The Australian Ballet by then emerging choreographer, Wayne McGregor. This work went on to be presented by the company at Lincoln Center in New York City as part of the 50th Anniversary Tour in 2012.
I vividly recall this creation process as the most mentally and physically challenging one of mycareer. McGregor’s movement vocabulary was like nothing we had ever done before. His work demands every ounce of body and mind. The synergy between being highly cognitive andphysically pushing the body’s boundaries of physical extremes – flexibility, strength and dynamics – is truly stuff that fuels a dancers’ soul. Set to Steve Reich’s pulse-pounding score – Double Sextet – and it’s monochromatic and geometric design,Dyad 1929 is a sleek, modern and thrilling performance experience for audiences. McGregor choreographs a kiss into each of his works – so keep an eye out for where it is in Dyad 1929!
Warumuk (Stephen Page)
Warumuk Vivienne Wong with Artists of the Australian Ballet and Bangarra Dance Theatre Photography by Lynette Wills
A collaboration with Bangarra Dance Theatre with choreography by Stephen Page, Warumuk was the final piece in the Infinity triple bill in 2012. This new work was also presented in New York City at Lincoln Center alongside Dyad 1929 in the Luminous program.
Based on Aboriginal astronomy, Warumuk moved from the Evening Star to the Morning Star exploring the myths that resonate within the night sky and the myriad of stories of the galaxy. The piece featured dancers from both companies performing, coming together, inspired by Aboriginal culture and exploring these astronomical myths through contemporary dance.
Jennifer Irwin was the designer of the exquisite costumes which incorporated carefully selected body paint. Vivienne Wong particularly shimmers in her costume as The Evening Star. The score composed by David Page, is mix of soundscape and orchestral instruments proving a stirring and moving experience and celebrates the resilience of Aboriginal songs and languages.
Narrative of Nothing (Murphy)
Narrative of Nothing Artists of The Australian Ballet Photography by Lynette Wills
This work opened theInfinity triple bill,commencing the 2012 season, beginning celebrations for the company’s 50th Anniversary Season. Well-known to us all, choreographer Graeme Murphy’s idea for the piece was the notion that audiences, when confronted with the abstract, will map their own narrative on to what they see – hence it’s title, Narrative of Nothing.
The work has Graeme’s signature sculpturing of bodies to create landscapes, incorporating dynamic movement sequences showcasing individual dancers virtuostic talents. It’s set toBrett Dean’s Fire Musicscore, written as a response to the Black Saturday bushfires that devasted Australia’s East Coast in 2009.
The white unitard costumes were created by Jennifer Irwin, each possessing a unique hand painted design of purples, blues and black with sparsely spaced sequins that emphasised movement as they reflected the light. On opening night, we each received a ‘chookas’ card with a segment of the unique design from our own personal costume painted on the front from Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon. A lovely personal touch and keepsake!
Friends of the Australian Ballet extend our sincere thanks to Andrew Wright, Planned Giving and Patrons Representative at The Australian Ballet for so generously sharing these wonderful experiences and insights with FAB members. Watch the Triple Bill now on Ballet TV.
It’s been almost two months since distancing began, and it’s safe to say our movie lists are slowly dwindling down. We’ve collated some of our favourite ballet-themed movies and documentaries into this list to make sure our Friends get their ballet-fix!
This list is in no particular order, as we couldn’t bear to rank them!
Centre Stage (2000)
‘Centre Stage’ – Columbia Pictures
Ballet’s not all turns and tutus. Follow the new students of the American Ballet Academy as they face the challenges and setbacks of making it in the ballet world. One doesn’t have the ‘body.’ The other has a poor ‘attitude.’ And another lacks the ‘heart.’
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb1oUDMxHvE
Watch on Youtube or Google Play from $3.99. Stream on Netflix
Mao’s Last Dancer (2009)
‘Mao’s Last Dancer – Samuel Goldwyn Films
Growing up in Maoist China, Li Cunxin never challenged or dared questioned his world. At 11, he was chosen by the state to move to Bejing and train as a ballet dancer. But when sent to an American Ballet Summer School, this facade begins to shatter.
Bonus points for this film as the Friends ran the Sydney premiere! Also, Australian Ballet’s own Chengwu Guo acts as teen Li Cunxin!
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy7f5DMPJAU
Watch on Youtube or Google Play from $3.99. Stream on Stan
White Nights (1985)
‘White Nights’ – Columbia Pictures
Kolya Rodchenko, a defective Russian ballet dancer is forced to return to his homeland after being discovered. The KBG intend for him to return to the Kirvov Academy of Ballet, but after he befriends an American expat, he can’t give up on his dreams of freedom and escape.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHpKeRSLnF8
Watch on Youtube or Google Play from $3.99.
Billy Elliot (2000)
“Billy Elliot”– Universal Pictures
Set in the 1984 UK miner’s strike, follow little Billy Elliot as he tries his hardest to follow his passion for dance and his dream to become a professional ballet dancer. However, ‘ballet’ just isn’t what 11-year-old boys should do.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g1YvKDdIfc Watch on Youtube or Google Play for $3.99.
Black Swan (2010)
“Black Swan” – Fox Searchlight Pictures
Nina achieves the dream of all ballerinas – she is cast as the White Swan, Princess Odette. However, when the artistic director decides others may suit the role better, she slips slowly into madness.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jaI1XOB-bs Watch on Youtube or Google Play for $4.99.
The Red Shoes (1948)
“The Red Shoes” – General Film Distributors
An oldie but a goodie, Victoria Page is torn between her passion with dance and her passionate love with a young composer. With her life mirroring her character in the ballet, Victoria may be dancing to her death.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRV6LPtRUyc Watch now on SBS: On Demand
The White Crow (2019)
“The White Crow” – BBC Films
Rudolf Nureyev travels to Paris to further and fulfill his dream to become a professional ballet dancer. However, resistance from KGB officers put this dream, as well as Rudolf’s life, in a dangerous situation.
Some of our members attended screenings for ‘The White Crow’ last year, but it’s definitely one to re-watch!
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BklqjGWxNMs Watch on Youtube or Google Play for $5.99.
A Ballerina’s Tale – Misty Copeland (2015)
“A Ballerina’s Tale” – Sundance Selects
Ballet was all about fitting the ‘mold.’ Until Misty Copeland pirouette’d it all upside-down. From starting ballet ‘late’ at 13, to not having the “ideal” body type, and finally, to being the FIRST African-American Principal Ballerina at ABT. Follow Misty’s tale in this documentary about her story!
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Y2h6fz2XzQ Watch on Youtube or Google Play for $5.99.
Bolshoi Babylon (2016)
“Bolshoi Babylon” – Altitude Film Distribution
Seeking to uncover answers and secrets about the scandal surrounding the Bolshoi Theatre’s acid attacks in 2013, this documentary takes you behind the curtain like never before, documenting the extraordinary artistic and athletic talents of ballerina’s and the ruthlessness of the ballet world.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TK8uth06SQ&t=6s Watch on Amazon Prime for $4.99
“Girl” – Lukas Dhont
It’s no secret the professional ballet world is tough. But for Lara, a 15-year-old girl born in a boy’s body, it’s just that little bit tougher.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdzu26tnUTc
Watch on Youtube or Google Play for $5.99.
The Company (2003)
“The Company” – Sony Pictures Classic
Ry, an aspiring ballerina struggles with balancing the demands of being a dancer and her new relationship with Josh, who isn’t from her insular world. Featuring the actual Joffrey company, take a look into the lives of those in The Company.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6rlWpWRPVU Watch on Amazon Prime for $3.99
Dancer – Sergei Polunin Documentary (2016)
“Dancer” – Steven Cantor
He’s the “bad boy of ballet.” Follow the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal dancer at age 19, Sergei Polunin, and understand how he walked away from it all, only two years later.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXsP-AAL-7M Watch on Youtube or Google Play from $5.99.
First Position (2011)
“First Position” – First Production Films
Follow six young dancers aged 9-19 prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix in New York City, competing for the place at an elite ballet company or school.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmiBXdBNIXE Watch on Amazon for $3.99
These last two are for the kids!
(Because school nights can be movie nights… right?)
“Ballerina” – Entertainment One
An orphan girl dreams of becoming a ballerina, assuming a new identity to become a pupil at the Grand Opera House in Paris.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a166o4om9OA Watch on Foxtel Go or Youtube/Google Play from $12.99
Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)
“Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses” – Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Princess Genevieve and her eleven sisters have discovered a magical world through dance, allowing them to understand the strength of imagination and creativity. Can they save their father’s kingdom in time?
Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTFMnqIz51g