The light and shade of 2016

The men and women who lit up Australian stages this year:

David Hallberg

After more than two years recovering from a severe injury he shone on the stage of the Sydney Opera House in December in the role of Franz in the Australian Ballet’s Coppelia.

Hallberg said he wanted to make his return in a low key way, but there was no way he was not going to show just why he is a principal dancer of both American Ballet Theatre and the Bolshoi Ballet.

Talent such as his is very rare as is his modesty as a dancer.

Robyn Hendricks

It took a long time for her elevation to the rank of principal dancer at the Australian Ballet but after a stunning performance in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain and as Odette/Odile in Stephen Baynes’ Swan Lake, she was promoted in June.

Bernhard Knauer and Janessa Dufty

But also all the dancers who were cast in Sydney Dance Company’s season of Wildebeest, choreographed by Gabrielle Nankivell (October).

Alice Topp

Her choreography for Little Atlas was a highlight of the Australian Ballet’s gala in May.

John Neumeier

Finally, he agreed that the Australian Ballet could take his Nijinsky into the repertoire. Now I hope he might find a way to bring his Lady of the Camellias to Australia.

Kristina Chan

A Faint Existence at the Carriageworks in October. Why does this brave and highly talented artist not have a benefactor?

The Shades of 2016:

Nothing to do with La Bayadere but the sadder or more disappointing moments of the year:

Madeleine Eastoe

She really should have won an Australian Dance Award this year for her farewell performance as a principal dancer of the Australian Ballet in the role of Giselle in 2015.

The awards given in 2016 included performances from 2015.*

Daniel Gaudiello

My hope for 2017 is that he might return to the dance stage in Australia.

He left the Australian Ballet in March but did dance as a guest with the Royal New Zealand Ballet later this year.

His charismatic performances are sadly missed.

Bodytorque and the lack of new ballet choreography in Australia

The Australian Ballet’s Bodytorque program of new works choreographed by its own dancers and guest choreographers has gone but it’s not forgotten.

In 2017, the Australian Ballet repertoire has no new choreography except for Tim Harbour’s work, Squander and Glory, part of the triple bill titled Faster.

The Queensland Ballet, however, will showcase new works in 2017 with, Bespoke, a triple bill with works by Amy Hollingsworth, Stephanie Lake and QB dancer, Jack Lister.

Malcolm Turnbull

His government’s cuts to the arts this year were brutal.

*Disclosure: I have been on the ADA panel for four years, including 2016. Winners of all ADA categories are those who receive the most votes by the panel and Ausdance Australia’s advisers.

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Robyn Hendricks (in red dress) with Christopher Rodgers-Wilson and Vivienne Wong, publicity photo for 2017 Australian Ballet season, photo © Justin Ridler

Kristina Chan, A Faint Existence, photo © Lucy Parakhina

Madeleine Eastoe and Kevin Jackson, Giselle, Australian Ballet, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby

Daniel Gaudiello, as James, La Sylphide, Australian Ballet, 2013, photo © Jeff Busby

David Hallberg as Franz, Coppelia, Australian Ballet, photo © Kate Longley

Francois-Eloi Lavignac, Kevin Jackson, Ako Kondo, in Nijinsky, choreography, John Neumeier, Australian Ballet, photo © Wendell Teodoro

Wildebeest, choreography Gabrielle Nankivell, Sydney Dance Company, photo © Pedro Greig

Kevin Jackson, Vivienne Wong, Rudy Hawkes, Little Atlas, choreography by Alice Topp, Australian Ballet, photo © Daniel Boud