COVID-19 Update

In view of the NSW Government’s directive that all non-essential gatherings of 500 people or more are banned between March 16th 2020 until June 14th 2020, The Australian Ballet will not proceed with its performances of Volt (3 – 22 April 2020) and Anna Karenina (30 April – 18 May 2020) at Sydney Opera House. We, therefore, regret to announce that all Friends of The Australian Ballet events have been cancelled until further notice.

While this is extremely disappointing to us all, we hope you will understand that the health and safety of our members is our top priority.

However, as we are a small not-for-profit organisation, this decision has greatly affected the ongoing operations of The Friends of The Australian Ballet.  Our main source of income is derived from our dress rehearsal ticket sales and your ongoing support. We are currently working with our board to review our operations to ensure we can continue to share our love and joy of ballet with you well into the future.

If you have purchased tickets to attend any of our future events, including Volt, Anna Karenina, Meet the New Dancers, and Friends in Conversation with Chris Yates, we will be contacting all ticket holders separately and will offer the following options:

  • Donate your ticket purchase to The Friends of The Australian Ballet
  • Keep a credit for a future performance
  • A full refund of the ticket value

The Friends has always relied on the generous support of our members. If you are able, we ask you to consider donating your ticket purchase so we can continue to provide unique events and experiences to our dedicated community of ballet lovers well into the future.

If you select a credit, exchange or a refund, we will aim to process your request within 10 business days.

Please refrain from calling our office due to high demand and staff working from home.

Please contact us through admin@fab.org.au and we will be posting regular updates on social media (Facebook and Instagram) as well as www.fab.org.au

We thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time.

With kind regards,

The Office of The Friends of The Australian Ballet

David Hallberg, the next Artistic Director.

David Hallberg, the next Artistic Director.

As we all have heard by now, Mr. David Hallberg will be succeeding David McAllister as Artistic Director of the Australian Ballet in 2021. Hallberg has had a long and intimate relationship with the company, so it comes as no surprise that we are thrilled to hear that The Ballet will be left in such capable hands!

However, when it comes down to it, as Hallberg made his name across the pond in the US, some of our members may need a quick crash course on all things Hallberg!

“I am thrilled for the future of this company, a company that inspires me with its level of excellence and global standard. I look forward to using the experience I’ve garnered over my 20-year career around the world and funnelling it into the culture of The Australian Ballet. The future looks very bright for this world class company.” ~ David Hallberg

Number One:

How did Hallberg rise up?

 

Inspired to dance by a Fred Astaire film in his childhood, Hallberg joined the American Ballet Theatre in 2000, joining the corps de ballet in 2001. His talent was clearly noted as within five years he was promoted to Principal Artist. From this starting point, he became a resident guest artist with an eclectic mix of countries, from the Paris Opera Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, and of course, The Australian Ballet. In 2011, he became the first American Principal Dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet. He is also a Principal Guest Artist with both the Australian Ballet and the Royal Ballet in London.

Number Two:

Why The Australian Ballet?

 

Hallberg has had a long history with The Australian Ballet throughout his career, including a long period of residence as he recovered for two years from injury. He has been a regular guest artist with the Australian Ballet for over 10 years and appreciates the sense of inclusivity he feels when he returns to Australia.

Since the beginning, he has always aspired to direct a company, however, he reported to the NY Times that he has “felt satiated on a certain level as a dancer,” and is ready to transition forward with a company he is deeply connected with.

 

Number Three:

Where will he take our company?

 

The big question. From McAllister, we have seen an era of stability and international growth, but where to from now? Hallberg reports he will be very focused on curating innovative ideas and nurturing a positive environment for dancer growth and training. He thrives on spectating different cultures and training regimes, so we have no doubt he will transform our company to new levels of ability.

Although his programming intentions are kept securely under lock and key, Hallberg has brainstormed certain names and choreographers he thinks should visit and debut down-under. I think we can expect that under his directorship, The Australian Ballet will be increasingly thrusted into the limelight of the global ballet arena.

 

However, the beauty of the Ballet is that it is not made up by any one person. It is a team, a Company, and Hallberg reported to the New York times that “Come January 2021, it won’t be about me anymore; it will be about this institution and its dancers.”

 

Here’s to the next era of The Australian Ballet.

 

A Pivotal Year of Ballet.

A Pivotal Year of Ballet.

It may be halfway through February, but as the 2020 season has not yet begun, we’d like to wish our readers a Happy New Year!

As we leave behind the beautiful 2019 Year of Enchantment, we cannot wait to announce some new happenings in this little joint!

David McAllister – Courtesy of Aus. Ballet

First off, as most of our members would know, this Year of Limitless Possibilities also doubles as David McAllister’s final year as Artistic Director of the Company. After two decades of brilliant service, we are sure David’s departure will be in the forefront of all Australian Ballet proceedings this season. If you’ve received our newsletter, you may remember that on Wednesday 18th of November we will be holding a Farewell Lunch for David. If you’re interested in meeting David at one of his last events as Artistic Director, make sure to pencil in that date and we promise to keep you posted.

Australian Ballet Company – Courtesy of the Aus. Ballet.

Focusing on the Friends now, we are thrilled to announce our new series, ‘Friends in Conversation,’ where we bring a special guest to talk about their area of expertise within the ballet world. Last year, many of our members asked for more talks and conversation with ballet folk, so we’ve decided to launch this new series in 2020. Kicking the series off, this week, Executive Director Libby Christie will divulge in the operations and logistics of the Australian Ballet. The Australian Ballet can only survive with someone running the business committee, and to understand how the company has survived through the ages, you’ll have to ask Libby yourself. However, if you can’t make it this Thursday, next week we will begin selling tickets to our next conversation with the Director of Production and Planning, Chris Yates on the 16th April.

As usual, we are holding our Meet the New Dancers 2020’ event this year on the 31st of March at the Royal Automobile Club of Australia. Nine talented dancers have been inducted into the company this year, all coming from our own Australian Ballet School. Most notably, the recipient of the Friends of the Australian Ballet 2019 Annual Scholarship, Belle Urwin, was inducted to be apart of the 2020 Australian Ballet Company! This scholarship is awarded to a NSW dancer to assist them in their final year of training at the Australian Ballet School. Congrats to all nine dancers, we are all so excited to see you on stage soon!

The 2020 shows; Volt, Anna Karenina, Molto, The Happy Prince and Harlequinade, are now just on the horizons. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on all our social media (Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn) as well as on here to make sure our Friends are all set for a Year of Limitless Possibilities. To find out more about the season, check out our previous blog posts to get a brief overview of the season!

How does a moment last forever? Our Pre-Performance Sylvia Talk with Sculptor Linda Klarfeld.

How does a moment last forever? Our Pre-Performance Sylvia Talk with Sculptor Linda Klarfeld.

As audience members, we usually gawk at a dancer’s consecutive turns and flying leaps, but from the perspective of sculptor Linda Klarfeld, it is the intricate and fast-moving positions of a dancer that she wishes to immortalise in bronze. Before our Sylvia Dress Rehearsal performance, we were honoured to have Linda Klarfield, a celebrated Australian sculptor to talk about how she intertwined her artistic gifts and her admiration of ballet in her 6 dance-inspired bronze sculptures. In this talk, her sculptures were brought to life by two talented young students from Allegria Dance Studio.

Her talk detailed her tedious process of sculpting and modelling, of her obsessive observation with the placing of an index finger, or the positioning of a hip bone. Her artworks capture positions that are impossible to hold, as Linda described that her bronze sculptures will stay ‘en pointe’ for 2000 years. As she was never a professional dancer, she leaned on the technical eye of David McAllister and Robert Albert to critique and examine her plasticine sculptures before casting them in rubber/plaster moulds. Using these moulds, she would cast the sculptures in wax and detail any imperfections. At one point, she recalled she had been so obsessive in perfecting the detailing of the hands and materials, she had overlooked that she had cast a dancer with (literally) two left feet. After creating a ceramic mould with the wax sculptures, she would melt out the wax and pour in the bronze.

Bronze is characterized by permanence and strength; hence, Linda relies on it to hold impossible poses with impeccable balance. In her statue of the pas de deux from Giselle, she highlights how her greatest challenge was locating the position’s centre of gravity. In this statue, the ballerina is not yet at the top of her lift, and Linda explains that she located the centre of gravity as being slightly off-centre, as the two dancers pull up and away from each other to maintain balance. We have all seen these lifts in arabesque, with the risen leg stretching through a 90-degree angle, however, the eye always misses the moments before the picture. Linda’s sculptures make that moment tangible to help incite a feeling of excitement about what is about to happen, to bring the sculptures to life in what feels like a real-life pas de deux.

 

This whole process would take around 6 months for every sculpture, however, in every finished result, you can clearly see the admiration and dedication Linda has for her dancers and her art. We thank her for sharing her unique insight into the world of sculpting and ballet with our members, and commend her on her beautiful artworks.

 

Sculptor Linda Klarfeld

 

All photos were taken by Lexy Potts.

Still, Slow and Satisfying… ‘Missed Nuance’ by Niv Novak

Still, Slow and Satisfying… ‘Missed Nuance’ by Niv Novak

A dancer spends years training to conceal any pain or difficulty during performances.  Thus, small moments of strength and beauty can be overlooked, ‘lost to speed’ according to Niv Novak in an interview with MyModernNet. In Novak’s latest work, ‘Missed Nuance – A Ballet Art Film,’ audiences are forced to slow down and glorify every shift and change in the dancer’s body.

The film partners artists from our own Australian Ballet with the Bolshoi Theatre, The Royal Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and the Queensland Ballet. Excerpts of the film have been scattered around social media under #missednuance, creating an endless time-loop of mesmerizing and satisfying clips. The full film can now be found on iTunes in 4k.

The trailer alone is hard evidence against the claim that ‘ballet is not a sport.’ It is an ode to the beauty and athleticism of these professionals. One costume appears like molten gold, spinning and rippling as it hardens around the dancer. In another shot, green silk soars through the air, like a blooming flower stretching it’s petals. And in a closeup of a shoe, mustard yellow fabric tangles around the leg of the dancer as the pointe shoe clicks forward into an extended pointe.

Like the dance form, Novak’s work faced many difficulties in production, yet the end product persevered, clearly conveying Novak’s genuine admiration for his dancers.

 

“What a thrill it is to see these amazing dancers captured in such exquisite detail and at a speed that we can see the sheer grit and power that goes into making dance that inspires with its beauty. It is a glimpse at the sublime captured by one who is also an artist and a great supporter of our art,” said David McAllister, Artistic Director, The Australian Ballet.

Missed Naunce with Zoe Cavedon, Projection Dance

Dancer: Zoe Cavedon

Please hold… Technical Difficulties…

It took him 18 months to perfect the lighting in each shot, as he experimented with light numerous times as he attempted to replicate the lighting structure of portraiture in a video medium.

With 700kg of lighting equipment located in his Melbourne studio, it was paramount that dancers could travel to Melbourne. With companies like The Australian Ballet, there was no shortage of talent, however, international companies like the Bolshoi Theatre and The Royal Ballet have taken a deep interest in this project, hence numerous high calibre international dancers appearing in ‘Missed Nuance.’

A main source of anxiety for Novak centred on the idea that shooting 1000 frames per second would make any small imperfection very prominent. Novak describes in his interview with FilmDaily his lighting equipment had to be 5x stronger than the average studio equipment to ensure the picture remained smooth and fluid. Moreover, as every real-time second would equate to a 40-second film on camera, Novak estimated his camera recorded 11GB per second, meaning that each day of shooting would end with approximately 4-6TB of data.

 

Lights, Camera, Fashion!

Novak’s work not only showcased the finest talent in dance, but also places Australian couture in an international spotlight. All costumes were designed by leading Australian designers, the team lead by the likes of Belinda Pieris. The team delved into a deep study of fabric dynamics to ensure that the fabrics flowed through every movement and shot, ensuring nothing less than perfection in this collaboration between dance and fashion.

“I’ve been in the fashion industry for over two decades and I have never seen fabric move and come alive the way that Niv’s work demonstrated, absolutely breathtaking!” Jason Grech, Designer

Dancer: Yuumi Yamada

 

The Tunes

Although sounds are often underestimated in the business of photography, Novak spared no expense in ensuring that the score maintained the same high standards as his images. Melbourne-based composer Troy Rogan was commissioned to create an original score that reflects the beauty and grace of the film. The score aims to create a tranquil atmosphere, creating a trance-like effect on the audience. Maybe that’s why we got stuck in that endless time loop, watching these satisfying videos back-to-back?

 

Novak hopes audiences return to their daily life being more appreciative of dancers and beauty. He describes that ‘beauty is in every other instant,’ which completely sums up the purpose of the film. In a greater sense, the piece is an ode to the brilliant capabilities of humans, of the results of perseverance and spirit.

Stream Missed Nuance now on iTunes in 4k.

 

 

 

Three Reasons for The Happy Prince

Three Reasons for The Happy Prince

Based on Oscar Wilde’s classic tale, The Happy Prince is a colourful celebration of humanity with a unique Aussie flavour that will capture the imagination and attention of both children and adults with its message: a kind heart shines brighter than gold. With Graeme Murphy’s exquisite choreography, Christopher Gordon’s specially commissioned score and Kim Carpenter’s colourful design, The Happy Prince is sure to be an excellent start to the 2020 season. Here are three reasons why you need to catch it.

 

 

Wilde’s Writing

Photography by Kate Longley 

Wilde’s visual story is ripe for transformation on the ballet stage with its unique characters and creative illustrations. The golden Prince, cheeky Swallow and seductive Reed will come to life, dancing off the page through Murphy’s transformative storytelling. A modern twist on classic literature, this ballet will be something to look forward to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murphy Magic

Graeme Murphy. Photography by Kate Longley 

Graeme Murphy – dance legend who produced one of our most celebrated productions the Swan Lake returns to create yet another magical ballet. His humour, creativity, sensuality and boldness turn everything he makes into gold where he offers some charming and unique surprises in his interpretation of Wilde’s characters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dazzling designs

Design for The Happy Prince by Kim Carpenter 

Kim Carpenter’s delightful design will add a lively and colourful flair to the ballet, bringing to life Wilde’s moving tale, capturing the attention of all.