The Australian Ballet is kicking off the Sydney season of its 50th anniversary year with a bang — staging, for the first time in its history, a triple bill of all-new Australian works.
Opening at the Sydney Opera House on April 5, Infinity brings together the world premiere of specially commissioned works by Graeme Murphy, Gideon Obarzanek and Stephen Page.
It makes for an impressive show, but as corps de ballet company member Benjamin Stuart-Carberry told the Star Observer, there’s perhaps a reason such a production hasn’t been tackled in the Australian Ballet’s history: it’s bloody difficult to pull off.
“Three [new shows] at the one time is definitely hard,” he said.
“During the rehearsal process, you need to have the dancers you’re going to use in the studio at all times, so when changes are made, everyone knows.
“It meant we all stuck pretty much to our three pieces, with no real room for covers or second casts of dancers.
“Logistically, there’s quite a lot of pressure, but it created a lot of excitement as well — you hadn’t seen what anyone else was doing so everyone was eager to see the other two pieces.”
Murphy moves away from his established narrative style with an abstract work, The Narrative of Nothing, and Page ‘combines Western ballet with the spirituality of Indigenous dance’ in Warumuk — in the dark night.
Obarzanek provides a fresh look at the psychology of classical ballet in the post-modern, slightly cheeky There’s Definitely a Prince Involved, in which Stuart-Carberry dances lead.
“[Gideon’s piece] draws big metaphors between life, love and the story of Swan Lake. It has this flux between the intimacy of two people falling in love and these big sweeping generalisations about how love is doomed,” he said.
“It draws on Gideon’s interviews with people and what they know about ballet and what they know about relationships. In the end, it’s a really universal piece about love, and the fact that love is genderless and ageless.”
And while Stuart-Carberry doesn’t feature in Page’s piece, he said having the Indigenous dancers of the Bangarra Dance Company feature in the show has enlivened the whole company.
“It’s awesome having the Bangarra dancers around. I’ve been able to join in with their classes, and it’s a big learning process when you have new dancers and new bodies coming in.
“It’s fantastic to have all that cultural mingling going on.”
INFO: Infinity, April 5 – 25, Sydney Opera House. www.australianballet.com.au