Here’s to 2013, not forgetting the best moments of 2012

With the Paris Opera Ballet in Sydney in January/February and the Bolshoi Ballet in Brisbane in May/June, 2013 is set to be a very good year in dance for Australian audiences.

As well, Nederlands Dans Theater, under the artistic directorship of Paul Lightfoot, will perform at the Sydney Opera House in June and Sylvie Guillem will return to Australia with 6000 Miles Away at the Adelaide Festival and Sydney Opera House in March, then the Melbourne Festival in October.

The Adelaide Festival has a strong dance line-up, including Flamenco Hoy, the first live work directed by Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura and Larissa McGowan’s first full-length dance work.

Highlights of the Australian Ballet year will include guest performances of Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in March in Melbourne only, and Alexei Ratmansky’s new Cinderella in Melbourne in September and Sydney in November/December.

It’s going to be a Cinderella celebration year in Australia with Ben Stevenson’s production at the Queensland Ballet in April.

This production will be the first under the artistic directorship of Li Cunxin. It was sad to see the departure from Queensland of Francois Klaus and Robyn White but I wish them both well in their new careers in Europe.

Garry Stewart’s Monument, for the Australian Ballet, will premiere in Canberra in May, marking the centenary of the city and Stephen Baynes’ Swan Lake will tour to Brisbane in February and Adelaide in July.

As for my own dance memories of 2012, the most exhilarating experience was my first visit to the renovated Bolshoi Theatre where I saw The Sleeping Beauty with beautiful new designs (scenery by Ezio Frigerio, costumes by Franca Squarciapino) and a visit to Hamburg where guest artist, Alina Cojocaru, and Hamburg Ballet principal, Thiago Bordin, danced the leads in Neumeier’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Their performances there, and again at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane in August with the Hamburg Ballet were the most satisfying of the year for me, for their interpretation, for their connection with the audience and of course for their outstanding technique.

Neumeier’s epic work, Nijinsky, also at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, was a summation of the choreographer’s fascination with Nijinsky, and memorable for many outstanding individual performances as well as the ensemble work for the entire company.

Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s new Giselle for the Royal New Zealand Ballet showed that both men have valuable insights into the way that the pillars of the classical ballet repertoire can be subtly expanded and extended to show new aspects of the story and characterisations.

Sheer luck in timing brought me to London at a time when Sergei Polunin returned to the stage (at Sadlers Wells) following his shock resignation from the Royal Ballet. The only reason I was in London at the time was to talk to Wayne Eagling who, in his last months as artistic director of the English National Ballet, was to bring the company to Sydney in June where it was a pleasure to see, for the first time in Australia, the charismatic Daria Klimentová and Vadim Muntagirov.

It was hard to go past the performance of Maria Pages in Dunas at the Sydney Opera House for her intense focus and the impact of her mesmerising stage presence and the West Australian Ballet’s first visit to Sydney in decades brought the pleasure of Jirí Kylián’s Un Ballo.

The Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary gala in Melbourne gave us the surprise treat of Daniel Camargo and Elisa Badenes from Stuttgart Ballet in a stunning grand pas de deux from Don Quixote, while the Australian Ballet principal, Amber Scott, richly deserved her place in Dance Europe’s Top 100 dancers of the year for her performance in Onegin.

The video is from a documentary on Aurélie Dupont, who is likely to be first cast Giselle on the opening night of the Paris Opera Ballet season in Sydney, dancing with Mathieu Ganio as Albrecht and Marie-Agnès Gillot as Myrtha.