The world danceathon has begun: Four hours of the Australian Ballet

The curtain on World Ballet Day Live rose with the Australian Ballet filmed in the company’s Southbank studios in Melbourne.

Company class taught by ballet mistress Fiona Tonkin, sparked the most tweets and excitement from Australia and North America (too early for Europe) but for me the highlight was a rehearsal of Ostinato, a new work by resident choreographer Tim Harbour that will premiere at Fall For Dance in New York on 16 October.

Harbour said his inspiration came from the music of jazz pianist Bill Evans. There’s a clip of the music below.

The music, titled Peace Piece, had been “rattling around my head for a long time”, Harbour said. It was mesmerising, sometimes tense, sometimes discordant

The pas de trois is danced by Robyn Hendricks, Daniel Gaudiello and Ty King- Wall.

I’m not sure who initiated World Ballet Day Live but it’s clear that the 20 hour life streaming is helping the promotional messages of the five companies.

The Australian Ballet was able to promote live its upcoming Swan Lake (Graeme Murphy’s production) in California and Harbour’s Ostinato in New York.

The dancers appeared confident in the company class despite the cameras whizzing around them.

Tonkin showed she still has the facility and line that she had as a principal of the Australian Ballet, demonstrating with grace and poise.

At the grand piano, company pianist, Stuart Macklin, was truly inspiring with a fabulous choice of music, including Sweet Molly Malone, for tendus. (Macklin has been a pianist with the company for 25 years.)

Artistic director, David McAllister, played a major role in the four hours devoted to the Australian Ballet, answering questions for the general public, describing the story of Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake, shown in rehearsal and chatting with the host of the program, Sussan Mourad, who admitted she knew nothing about ballet.

It was good to see Murphy and Janet Vernon back in the studio and of course Colin Peasley, now retired, but back for another Swan Lake, and ever the professional in his stance. He still “speaks” just standing and not taking a step.

McAllister also promoted the forthcoming season in Sydney, with Stanton Welch’s La Bayadere and Peter Wright’s Nutcracker.

Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo ended the Australian segment with a beautiful performance of a pas de deux in La Bayadere, with McAllister revealing at the last moment that they were “an item”.

As for statistics, I started watching just after noon when the number of people watching the live stream was 778. This rose to 1264 at 2.40pm and down to 1175 at 3.10pm

I’ll be updating with more from the Bolshoi Ballet and the Royal Ballet.

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Amber Scott and Adam Bull, The Australian Ballet, rehearsing Swan Lake, choreography Graeme Murphy, photo © Lynette Wills

Adam Bull and Lana Jones, rehearsing The Australian Ballet’s Swan Lake, choreography Graeme Murphy, World Ballet Day Live

Steven Heathcote with ballet student, Federation Square, Melbourne, World Ballet Day Live

Ballet students at Federation Square, Melbourne, World Ballet Day Live

Adam Bull and Amber Scott, The Australian Ballet, rehearse Swan Lake, photo © Lynette Wills

Ty King-Wall, Daniel Gaudiello and Robyn Hendricks, The Australian Ballet, rehearsing Tim Harbour’s Ostinato