THE Australian Ballet’s 2016 season will blend treasured masterpieces, comic fairytales and legends of ballet history under the common theme of “transformation”, to celebrate ballet’s ability to transform.

Founded in 1962, the Australian Ballet is one of the world’s leading ballet companies, and 2016 will see the Australian premiere of the Nijinsky masterpiece, the return of much-loved classics Coppélia, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, and world premiere works by emerging stars.

[showads ad=MREC] The season begins at the start of the year in Brisbane when the Australian Ballet brings an exclusive encore season of Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella, which earned rave reviews for the witty, romantic and 1940s-inspired interpretation of the classic love story.

The 2016 triple contemporary bill, Vitesse, brings together three world-famous choreographers: Christopher Wheeldon’s work sees dancers hurtle at a head-spinning pace; Jiří Kylián’s evokes a haunting and harrowing seascape set to Benjamin Britten’s dark Sinfonia da Requiem; while William Forsythe promises a ballet that is chic, sleek and dangerous. Vitesse opens in Melbourne in March before coming to Sydney in April.

The Australian Ballet turns back the clock to a traditional take on the world’s most popular ballet, Swan Lake. From the first bars of Tchaikovsky’s score, the production will take audiences to another world with unnerving psychological intimacy. One of the most ambitious works ever staged by the company, it was created for the Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary in 2012 and will have an encore season beginning in Sydney in April before Adelaide and Melbourne in May and June respectively.

Meanwhile, Symphony in C is a mixed bill of bite-size classical and contemporary ballet delights that shows the art form at its best. Highlights include the world premiere of two new works by emerging choreographers Alice Topp and Richard House. This work is exclusive to Sydney and opens in April, as the classical counterpoint to Vitesse.

In June, Houston Ballet will bring the world’s most famous love story, Romeo and Juliet, to Melbourne. For the first time, audiences can enjoy award-winning choreographer Stanton Welch’s interpretation of the classic Shakespeare tale set in a richly ornate design inspired by Renaissance Italy.

Perhaps the centrepiece of the 2016 program is Nijinsky, a work inspired by the rise and fall of a ballet legend. A famed Ballets Russes star, Nijinsky changed dance forever. His explosive leap and sensual choreography brought critics to tears. This Australian premiere takes audiences inside the mind of a tortured genius, following his journey from ecstasy to anguish before his tragic end in an insane asylum. An extravagant production set against the backdrop of the celebrated Ballet Russes, Nijinsky opens in Melbourne in September, Adelaide in October and Sydney in November.

Finally, the family-friendly fairytale Coppélia brims with lively dancing and 19th-century charm. This is comedy, sorcery and masquerade made real as village boy Franz learns why you should never romance a living doll. This festive season favourite opens in Melbourne in September, and Sydney in December.

Australian Ballet Artistic Director David McAllister said the 2016 program was one of the most ambitious yet.

“Ballet has the ability to transform. It creates a special place where time stands still,” he said.

“This year promises a kaleidoscope of magic and fantasy from the historic past to the present… This is a richly dynamic and diverse season which I am proud to present.”

Australian Ballet has also confirmed it would tour to regional centres in Australia, and plans to go overseas again after successful tours of China and the US in the past year.

Details and bookings: australianballet2016.com.au

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**This article was first published in the January edition of the Star Observer, which is available now. Click here to find out where you can grab a copy in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.

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