The Royal returns to Australia with works by British choreographers, Wheeldon and McGregor

The Royal Ballet is showcasing the works of two British choreographers in its 2017 tour to Australia.

The season at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane will open on 29 June with Woolf Works, choreographed by the Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer, Wayne McGregor.

The Winter’s Tale, choreographed by the Royal’s artistic associate, Christopher Wheeldon, will open on 5 July and the season will end on 9 July.

The two ballets have never been staged outside of the Royal’s home base, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

The Royal Ballet last toured to Australia in 2002, when the company visited three cities, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and brought a starry group of dancers among them Jonathan Cope, Darcey Bussell, Alina Cojocaru, Sylvie Guillem Leanne Benjamin, Johan Kobborg Ivan Putrov and Miyako Yoshida.

The ballets were Swan Lake, Giselle and a triple bill of Tryst, The Leaves are Fading and Marguerite and Armand.

Things didn’t work entirely as planned. On the flight to Australia Tamara Rojo’s already injured foot swelled to such an extent that she was unable to dance at all.

Guillem was also ill, and did not join the company until near the end of the season when she danced as Marguerite.

I can still remember the excitement at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre when Alina Cojocaru made her debut in Swan Lake with Kobborg.

Cojocaru’s performance as Giselle was also a highlight of the tour as was Marianela Nunez’s debut as Myrthe.

Among the young dancers in the company was 18-year-old Lauren Cuthbertson.

It’s a strange coincidence that the Royal Ballet’s tours to Australia happen every 14 or 15 years – 1988, 2002, and 2017.

In 1988, the company performed in three cities.

In Sydney the venue was the vast Sydney Entertainment Centre, a late and unlamented arena that was demolished last year.

The company’s program that year included Manon, Swan Lake, and a triple bill of David Bintley’s Still Life at the Penguin Cafe, Frederick Ashton’s Rhapsody, and Kenneth Macmillan’s Rite of Spring.

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Woolf Works, Royal Ballet, photo © Tristram Kenton

Woolf Works, Royal Ballet, photo © Tristram Kenton

Woolf Works, Royal Ballet, photo © Tristram Kenton

The Winter’s Tale, Royal Ballet, photo © Johan Persson

Lauren Cuthbertson as Hermione and Edward Watson as Leontes,The Winter’s Tale, Royal Ballet, photo © Johan Persson

Steven McRae, A Winter’s Tale, photo © Johan Persson