Over the last two years The Australian Ballet has worked with ABC TV on an exciting series that charts the Company’s history. And We Danced reveals the key moments that shaped The Australian Ballet, and tells the story of the people whose passion and dedication continue to drive the Company forward today. Featuring rarely seen footage from The Australian Ballet’s archive, the series also delves into what has made The Ballet so uniquely Australian.
Australia’s fever for ballet began in the early 20th century with the arrival of the Ballet Russes, who inspired the establishment of Australia’s first professional ballet company – the Borovansky Ballet. Despite outstanding success with audiences, the life of the company was short lived. It wasn’t until the arrival and foresight of British dancer Peggy van Praagh – who took over the sinking company – that the future of ballet in the country looked up.
A successful campaign to government in 1964 led to the establishment of Australia’s first professional dance company: The Australian Ballet. The company’s debut of adored classic Swan Lake was a resounding success, but the early decades were far from smooth sailing. A failed tour to New Zealand, over-worked dancers and industrial action threatened the fledgling company as it tried to carve out its own unique cultural identity.
The early seventies saw the celebrated arrival of a new mode of contemporary dance and the company’s iconic production of Rudolph Nureyev’s Don Quixote, an extravaganza that would herald the greatest ballet film of all time.
Episode 2, Act 2 1980 – 1999
In the 1980s, The Australian Ballet’s audience was broader than ever before. But the long simmering tensions between belt-tightening and creative risk were about to come to a head. In 1981 the dancers staged an iconic strike, demanding to be paid according to skill and rank.
Shortly after, the artistic appointment of British dancer Maina Gielgud finally brought together the creative and business sides of the company. What followed was a harmonious period of rebuilding and a focus on cultivating the company’s many young dancers, such as David McAllister, Steven Heathcote, Elizabeth Toohey and Fiona Tonkin.
Inspired by the company’s youth, the early nineties saw daring, sexy and provocative ballets that pushed the limits of physicality and tradition. Spartacus, and Stanton Welch’s Divergence showed a new edge and revolutionised the ballet’s public image.
The period also saw the arrival of Australia’s most highly regarded choreographer Graeme Murphy and the company’s first collaboration with choreographer Stephen Page of Bangarra Dance Company.
Ross Stretton took over the artistic direction in 1997. Remote and reclusive, his approach was not endeared by some, though no one could deny his artistic strengths. By the end of the decade, the repertoire was becoming increasingly contemporary, increasingly Australian and increasingly risky.
Episode 3, Act 1 2000 – 2020
In the third and final episode of And We Danced, The Australian Ballet enters the new millennium with a bold creative appointment. Fresh from the dancer’s ranks and with no prior leadership experience, David McAllister became artistic director of The Australian Ballet in 2001.
His daring first commission was Graeme Murphy’s adaptation of Swan Lake, inspired by the love triangle between Princess Diana, Prince Charles and Camilla. It was an unprecedented success, becoming a signature piece for the company and securing the future of the company in McAllister’s hands.
Further collaborations with Stephen Page and Bangarra Dance Company, and the recruitment of Ella Halvelka, The Australian Ballet’s first Indigenous dancer, cemented the company’s commitment to represent a diversity of stories and cultures that reflect Australian society more widely.
With success of large-scale crowd-pleasers such as Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty alongside more experimental works it appeared that the balance between financial viability and creative risk had been struck.
After twenty years at the helm of the company, McAllister propelled The Australian Ballet into the 21st century on and off the stage. In 2021, ballet’s popularity is as great as ever. With the recent appointment of international superstar David Hallberg as the eighth Artistic Director the ballet looks forward to a new future as one of our preeminent cultural institutions.
AN UNMISSABLE FESTIVAL OF DANCE MELBOURNE 24 SEPT – 2 OCT
This September, dance companies from around Australia will gather at Arts Centre Melbourne for a festival experience like no other.
DanceX is a brand new, two-part festival conceived and curated by The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David Hallberg that will showcase the depth, range and diversity of the nation’s dance community. Bringing audiences brand new commissions, Australian premieres and excerpts from some of the most popular dance works of the last year, DanceX is an unmissable experience for culture-lovers of all kinds.
Eight companies – The Australian Ballet, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney Dance Company, Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin Inc, Australian Dance Theatre, Queensland Ballet and West Australian Ballet – will perform in two parts, marking the first coming-together of these companies in many years.
The Australian Ballet will perform in both parts, presenting the Australian premiere of Johan Inger’s comic, romantic dance theatre piece I New Then, set to songs by Van Morrison; Inger, a Swedish choreographer, danced with Nederlands Dans Theater and has made works for leading companies all over Europe.
DanceX is an opportunity for audiences to experience diverse works from Australia’s leading dance companies, celebrating and paying tribute to the richness of Australia’s dance community. As well as initiating and presenting DanceX, The Australian Ballet has commissioned two companies, Chunky Move and Lucy Guerin Inc, to create brand new works.
PART ONE | 24 – 27 SEPTEMBER
The Australian Ballet | New Then A comic, romantic dance theatre piece set to songs by Van Morrison.
Queensland Ballet | Glass ConcertoAn assemblage of high energy, dynamic and emotional movement, Glass Concerto will captivate and inspire audiences.
Sydney Dance Company | ab [intra] (excerpt)From tenderness to turmoil, ab [intra] is a journey through the intensity of human existence that will command your attention.
Lucy Guerin Inc | How To Be Us* A duet for two women on the limits of freedom.
Bangarra Dance Theatre | Ochres and Walkabout (excerpts) Three powerful, spiritual and grounded excerts from Bangarra’s seminal works Ochres (1995) and Walkabout (2002).
Duration: approx. 146 mins (including two intervals)
PART TWO | 30 SEPTEMBER – 2 OCTOBER
Australian Dance Theatre | The Beginning of Nature (excerpt)The Beginning of Nature explores the complex symphony of overlapping rhythms that constitute the very fabric of nature.
Chunky Move | AB_TA_ Response* AB_TA_Response explores the rhythm of forms between dance and design and considers the dialogue between biological and technological systems.
West Australian Ballet | 4SeasonsThe stages of life and love – the youth of spring, storms of summer, tenderness of autumn and the aging of winter.
The Australian Ballet | New ThenA comic, romantic dance theatre piece set to songs by Van Morrison.
Duration: approx. 124 mins (including two intervals)
After the sad news that The Australian Ballet are postponing their Melbourne season of New York Dialects, Artistic Director David Hallberg has made an exciting announcement.
Together with Telstra, The Australian Ballet are creating the Telstra Emerging Choreographer (TEC) award, a new pathway for emerging Australian choreographers in all dance styles to develop their skills and foster their talent.
The TEC will give up to four aspiring choreographers the opportunity to create a new work; the winner will be featured in The Ballet’s 2022 Bodytorque program and receive a cash prize of $10,000.
The award is open to all forms of dance, not just ballet. When discussing the initiate Hallberg said ‘I think part of my role and responsibility is to continue to stay a really active participant in the dance world, and the art world, here in Australia, and get to know it well. The community of dance should always be inclusive.’ Part of his vision for the company “is to open up our doors to other creators that aren’t necessarily ballet creators”.
Applications close 13 July, with the winner announced during the Bodytorque season in Melbourne this October.
There were many gifts given on David Hallberg’s birthday, seven of which were promotions that Hallberg himself gifted to dancers at an all-company meeting. Yuumi Yamada, Lisa Craig, Lucien Xu, Isobelle Dashwood, Jacqueline Clark, Riley Lapham, and Callum Linnane were all promoted.
Hallberg said, “Each promotion is the recognition of their individual focus and fortitude in their careers as professional dancers and equally, their contributions to the healthy culture of the company. Their talent exemplifies all aspects of the artistic vision I have for the company, and I look forward to seeing them all flourish in their new roles with vigour and confidence in their abilities.”
Congratulations to these artists!
Jacqueline Clark – promoted from Coryphée to Soloist
Lisa Craig – promoted from Corps de Ballet to Coryphée
Isobelle Dashwood – promoted from Corps de Ballet to Soloist
Riley Lapham – promoted from Corps de Ballet to Coryphée
Callum Linnane – promoted from Soloist to Senior Artist
Lucien Xu – promoted from Corps de Ballet to Coryphée
Yuumi Yamada – promoted from Coryphée to Soloist
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Jacqueline was born in Sydney and began dancing at the age of five. She studied with Sydney Festival Ballet and SCEGGS Redlands before finishing her studies at The Royal Ballet School in London. In 2006 she joined Ballet Ireland; in 2009 she joined The Royal Ballet. She joined The Australian Ballet in 2015.
During the recent Sydney season of New York Dialects, Jacqueline danced the First Theme in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments.
Lisa was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, and started ballet classes at the age of four. She studied under Caroline Claver before joining The Australian Ballet School, where she was chosen for an exchange program with Canada’s National Ballet School and the School of American Ballet. She toured in Don Quixote with The Dancers Company in 2011 and 2012 before joining The Australian Ballet in 2013.
Isobelle was born and raised in Toowoomba, Queensland. She began dancing at the age of six and trained in Queensland before winning the Robert and Elizabeth Albert Scholarship and a full scholarship to study at The Australian Ballet school; she began her studies in 2013. During her time at the school she participated in a month-long exchange with Canada’s National Ballet School and received an award for excellence in both classical and character dance. Isobelle joined The Australian Ballet in 2016.
During the recent Sydney season of New York Dialects, Isobelle danced Choleric in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. She was also a Telstra Ballet Dancer Award nominee in 2019 and 2017.
Riley grew up in Wollongong in New South Wales, and began dance classes at the age of six. She trained at the Beverley Rowles School of Dance and The Australian Ballet School. She joined The Australian Ballet in 2019
Riley received the Friends of The Australian Ballet Australian Ballet School Scholarship in 2018.
Callum Linnane grew up in Ballarat, Victoria. At the age of seven he began training in all styles of dance at the Ballarat Centre of Music and the Arts; he started ballet classes with Lauren Young at the age of eleven. Callum was accepted into The Australian Ballet School in 2008 and graduated dux with honours. He joined The Australian Ballet in 2015 and won the Telstra Ballet Award in 2016.
During the recent Sydney season of Counterpointe, Callum danced the Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.
Lucien (Yipeng) was born in the XuZhou, China. His father started him in dance lessons to build his strength. At age eleven Lucien was selected to study at the exclusive Beijing Dance Academy Secondary School. In 2014 and 2015 he received full scholarships to train at The Australian Ballet School, going on to tour with The Dancers Company several times. He joined The Australian Ballet in 2016. In 2019 he participated an exchange with The National Ballet of China.
Lucien was a Telstra Ballet Dancer Award nominee in 2018.
Originally born in Northern Japan, Yuumi moved to Australia when she was 16 to study at The Australian Ballet School. She toured with The Dancers Company in 2015. In 2016, she danced in The Australian Ballet’s production of Swan Lake and in its regional tour of Giselle, before joining The Company in 2017.
During the recent Sydney season of Counterpointe, Yuumi danced the Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux and the Second Pas de Deux in William Forsythe’s Artifact Suite.
Watch below to see David Hallberg announce the promotions
Andrew Killian and Kevin Jackson, two of The Australian Ballet’s much-loved Principal Artists have announced they will be leaving the Company.
Joining The Company in 2000, Andrew was made a Principal Artist in 2011. Across his eclectic career he has danced lead roles in countless ballets, including Manon, Nijinsky, Sir Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker, both Stephen Baynes and Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake, and Murphy’s Romeo & Juliet. Andrew was also involved in the creation of many new works including Baynes’ Constant Variants and Tim Harbour’s Wa and has performed in the majority of The Australian Ballet’s Bodytorque seasons. Andrew has toured with The Australian Ballet to Auckland, Tokyo, Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris.
‘I have known Andy personally since I first came to Melbourne in 2010 and have always admired his ease of dancing and approach to work. Nothing was ever too much to take on. A consummate team player, one committed to the glory and uniqueness of this company, Andy has always been ‘one’ with his colleagues. I know he will be missed within the ranks‘ – David Hallberg
Kevin joined slightly after Andrew in 2003 and was promoted to Principal Artist in 2020. In his time with the Company, he has performed lead roles in classical and contemporary works by choreographers including John Neumeier, Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor, Jiří Kylián and Graeme Murphy. He was chosen to create the lead male roles in David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty and Lucas Jervies’ Spartacus. Outside of The Australian Ballet, Kevin has accepted invitations to guest with some of the world’s other leading companies, such as American Ballet Theatre and The Royal Ballet.
‘Kevin is a soulfully deep artist; one that touched his audiences and colleagues with intense interpretations of the vast array of repertoire that The Australian Ballet offered him. . .Kevin immersed himself in the complex roles, going to an artistic place that required every bit of him. He spared nothing. He gave everything. This is the true sign of an artist; the devotional commitment to any role. Behind the scenes, he was as warm a colleague as any: devoted on stage, but human off it’ – David Hallberg