The Australian Ballet’s 2016 repertoire

For the first time in its history, the Australian Ballet will stage a ballet choreographed by John Neumeier, the artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet.

Nijinsky, choreographed by Neumeier in 2000, will open in Melbourne in September, moving to Adelaide in October and Sydney in November.

Neumeier’s interest in Vaslav Nijinsky’s life began when the choreographer was still a school boy in the United States.

Over many decades, Neumeier built a huge Nijinsky collection of bronzes, sculptures, oil paintings, water colours, lithographs, photographs, press cuttings, Meissen porcelain figurines and precious documents, including the original menu for Nijinsky’s wedding.

The ballet, in which several dancers portray Nijinsky, is also a portrait of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, its dancers and its repertoire.

The production was first performed in Australia during the Hamburg Ballet’s season in Brisbane in 2012.

It was danced to recorded music, as the pit in the Playhouse at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre is small, accommodating only 30 musicians, not enough for the score, comprising music by Chopin, Schumann, Rimsky-Korsakov and Shostakovich.

The second ballet new to the Australian Ballet’s repertoire is Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse, set to a score by the British composer Michael Nyman, composed for the inauguration of the north European line of the French Train á grande vitesse (or TGV).

DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse is part of a triple bill, along with Jirí Kylián’s Forgotten Land and William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.

This program opens in Melbourne in March and Sydney in April.

As a classical counterpoint to Vitesse, Sydney audiences can chose a mixed bill titled Symphony in C opening with the Balanchine ballet and continuing as a gala of short pieces including works by the Australian Ballet dancers and emerging choreographers, Alice Topp and Richard House.

I’m very pleased that these two choreographers will be showcased. They were the only two choreographers whose works were staged for this year’s Australian Ballet’s Bodytorque series. There’s no mention of Bodytorque in the 2o16 repertoire so it looks like the end of the line for the annual series.

The full-length classical ballets for the year will be Stephen Baynes’ Swan Lake, Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella, Stanton Welch’s Romeo & Juliet, choreographed by Welch for the Houston Ballet and Coppelia, produced by Peggy van Praagh, directed by George Ogilive and designed by Kristian Fredrikson.

Created for The Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary in 2012, Baynes’ Swan Lake will open in Sydney in April then travel to Adelaide in May and Melbourne in June.

Ratmansky’s Cinderella will open the company’s 2016 season, staged exclusively in Brisbane and opening in February.

Melbourne also has an exclusive season. In June, Welch will bring his own company, the Houston Ballet, to dance Romeo and Juliet.

This R&J, designed by Roberta Guidi di Bagno, had its world premiere in February this year.

Opening in Melbourne in September, and Sydney in December, is van Praagh’s Coppelia, premiering in 1979, one of my favourite ballets in the Australian Ballet repertoire not least for its beautiful designs by Fredrikson, from the midnight blue costumes for the Waltz of the Hours, to Dr Coppelius’ cloak scattered with eyes, to the adorable, partly finished ragdoll in the doctor’s workshop.

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Romeo & Juliet, Houston Ballet, photo © Amitava Sarkar

The Hamburg Ballet in Neumeier’s Nijinsky, photo © Holger Badekow

Thiago Soares and Marianela Nuñez in DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse, The Royal Ballet, photo © Tristram Kenton

Leanne Stojmenov and Daniel Gaudiello, Cinderella, The Australian Ballet, photo © John Busby

Valerie Tereshchenko, Symphony in C, The Australian Ballet, photo © Justin Ridler

Adam Bull and Amber Scott, Swan Lake, photo © Justin Ridler

Dimity Azoury, Coppélia, the Australian Ballet, photo © Justin Ridler