During The Friends farewell event to David McAllister on Wednesday 28 April, David was surprised when the event took a turn and became “David McAllister: This Is Your Life”.
Celebrating David McAllister AM was a joyous occasion including many special moments. The day of tribute culminated in the Royal Academy of Dance bestowing the internationally coveted Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award upon David McAllister AM in a touching ceremony.
“David McAllister: This Is Your Life” was hosted by Elizabeth Toohey, current Ballet Mistress of The Australian Ballet and long-term dance partner and close personal friend of David’s. Elizabeth delighted David with a line-up of guests either in person or by video who recounted charming and cheeky stories from David’s extraordinary career.
They included Don McAllister (David’s father) and Dianne Morris (David’s sister); Darren Spowart (an ex-dancer of The Australian Ballet and childhood friend of David); Maina Gielgud AO (former Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet and Ballet Director); Ian McRae AO and Richard Evans (past General Managers of The Australian Ballet); Graeme Murphy AO and Janet Vernon AM (internationally renowned Australian dance choreographers); and Wesley Enoch AM (David’s partner and outgoing Director of the Sydney Festival); followed by a message of Farewell from the Company (The Australian Ballet at Sydney Opera House).
The biggest surprise of the event was the presentation to David of the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, recognised internationally as one of the most sought-after in the world of dance and the highest honour from the Royal Academy of Dance. Bestowed in recognition of David’s dedication to The Australian Ballet for 40 years and for his wider contributions to the world of ballet including the Royal Academy of Dance where, in 2005, he was elected Vice President. Past recipients of the Award have included Sir Frederick Ashton, Dame Marie Rambert DBE, Rudolf Nureyev, Dame Gillian Lynne DBE, Sir Peter Wright CBE, Sir Matthew Bourne OBE, Maina Gielgud AO and Carlos Acosta CBE.
The Award was presented by Dame Darcey Bussell DBE and Audrey Nicholls OAM FRAD on behalf of the Royal Academy of Dance. Bussell is widely acclaimed as one of the great British ballerinas, having been a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet and guest artist with many leading companies around the world including The Australian Ballet. She retired from ballet in 2007, is a former judge of BBC TV dance contest Strictly Come Dancing and President of the Royal Academy of Dance. Dame Darcey said “I am absolutely thrilled that David is receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, the highest honour the Royal Academy of Dance can bestow, given in recognition of outstanding service to the art of dance.”
This joyous celebration of David also raised over $170,000 for the McAllister Fund, ensuring David’s legacy of generosity will continue well into the future.
27 April – 15 May // Dress Rehearsal 26 April
Sydney Opera House
In an exploration of movement, and a new, sensual language of ports de bras, this elegant 19th century classic Raymonda is combined with the fierce attack of Artifact Suite by William Forsythe is set to spark innovation through a study of tradition.
From the strict, prim-and-proper depths of traditional European Dance, Forsythe challenges dances through extended shapes and reimagined technique. Cut-throat speed, dynamic directions and extensions of human physical capabilities will characterise our stages, set to the contrasting musical partnership of Bach’s smooth Chaconne and the heart-kicking thrills of composer Eva Crossman-Hecht.
Raymonda (Act III)
Raymonda depicts the traditional wedding of the hero and heroine, showcasing sparkling technique and classical expression, held strongly by Hungarian character dance styles. The performance continuously builds to one of the most famous solos for leading ballerina’s, staged by our Artistic Director himself, David Hallberg.
“Raymonda adheres to tradition and pageantry; Forsythe took this history and ‘imitated’ it, creating a work that overwhelms both dancers and audience with gestural references given new meaning.”
Romeo and Juliet
5 – 24 November // Dress Rehearsal 4 November
Sydney Opera House
In Shakespeare’s own words, the company elicits a warning…
“These violent delights have violent ends.”
With Principal Artist Ako Kondo debuting her dream role alongside her real-life Romeo, Principal Artist Chengwu Guo, we can almost taste the beginnings of something special! Cranko’s choreography has synthesised drama, dance, design and young, ferocious love in this gorgeous take on the timeless story. With both Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet and The Australian Ballet debuting in 1962, we know that this collaboration is the dawn of greatness!
Although Stalin and various Bolshoi dancers pronounced the music as “undanceable,” Prokofiev’s score has not only endured, but is celebrated amongst modern audiences globally. Enhancing the story is Jürgen Rose’s designs of a grandeur, aristocratic, medieval Verona, ensuring a night that will surely whisk us away!
“I have danced performances of Romeo where the audience was with us in every scene; they become a part of the ballet.”
30 November – 18 December // Dress Rehearsal 29 November
Sydney Opera House
The 19th-century choreographer Marius Petipa made classical ballet’s most enduring works, including Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. Alexei Ratmansky, former director of the Bolshoi Ballet and artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre, has immersed himself in the original notation of Petipa’s oeuvre, producing meticulously researched revivals. His latest is the 1900 ballet Harlequinade, a lively romp based on commedia dell’arte.
He hath been stirred, and Harlequinade returns after eluding stages for over a century! This commedia dell’arte-inspired act is a lively comedy, which was reported to be held dearly by early 20th Century Tsar and Tsarina’s themselves! Through meticulous research and original notation of Petipa’s oeuvre, the timeless ballet has been revived in the original form, ready to be re-received by the world.
Harlequin and Columbine are in love, but as Columbine is set to marry an older and richer fellow, she is locked up by her father’s loyal servant, Pierrot. Pierrot’s wife, however, is sympathetic to the young couple, freeing Columbine as Harlequin is given a magical slap stick by the Good Fairy.
“To resurrect from the archives a ballet by one of dance’s greatest creators was something I cherished, and I look forward to passing the experience on to the artists who will perform the role here in Australia.”