The Melbourne-based Australian Ballet heads to Sydney this week to present Edge Of Night, a triple bill of performances mixing romance, comedy and Greek mythology. Two previously-seen performances devised by resident choreographer Stephen Baynes, 1997’s At The Edge of Night and 2003’s Molto Vivace, will play alongside the Australian Ballet mainstage debut for dancer-turned-choreographer Tim Harbour, Halcyon.
Dancer Kevin Jackson, who in his seventh year with the company was this year promoted to Senior Dancer, appears in all three works. Having performed in both of Baynes’ works during previous stagings, he said he was particularly excited to bring Harbour’s vision to life in front of an audience for the first time.
“Tim’s been one of my biggest inspirations, moving from being a dancer to becoming a choreographer. I was involved in most of his Bodytorque pieces, which were his first works as a choreographer, so I’ve been really inspired by watching him grow over the years,” he told Sydney Star Observer.
While Harbour’s piece and At The Edge of Night both tell stories of love, passion and yearning, Molto Vivace seems like the odd one out in this bill. Previous reviews have called it ‘laugh-out-loud funny’ – not a description usually associated with ballet.
“The whole piece is set on this white space, and the dancers emerge in vibrant colours and really set the tone. Stephen’s created a really humorous story against that backdrop. I’m the lovey-dovey lead who chases after the girl, but I know a lot of the other guys are enjoying having that fun side to their performances.”
After winning the 2008 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award, Jackson’s elevation this year to Senior Dancer with the company seemed almost an inevitability. But what does his promotion mean in practical terms? Does he make the younger dancers get him coffees and carry his bags?
“No, no! It’s not like that, and I’m not that kind of person anyway. As a senior artist, you get more opportunities to perform the senior roles, while also doing solo roles. In a way, it’s one of the hardest positions in the company — you’re expected to do a bit of everything.”
It’s particularly gruelling given the Australian Ballet’s comparatively heavy work rate.
“I think a dancer’s use-by-date might come quicker here than for a contemporary company that does 50 performances a year – we do up to 200. The time comes when you know it’s time to finish, but I feel like I’ve got another 10-15 years in me.”
Plenty of time for Jackson to tick off his next career goal, to become a principal dancer for the company. But for someone who’s spent the better part of a decade focused solely on ballet, it’s interesting to learn his initial passion was musical theatre.
“I really enjoyed musical theatre – the entertainment, the showmanship, the singing and the acting. But I realised that in ballet, there’s so much soul, technique and integrity involved. I felt I could give a lot more of myself in ballet. Plus I can’t really sing!”
info: Edge of Night plays at the Sydney Opera House from November 11-29. www.australianballet.com.au
Editor’s note: At the time of going to press, SSO learned that Jackson had just been made a Principal Dancer with the Australian Ballet. Congratulations Kevin!