Attached to all cultural traditions in the world are intellectual and philosophical ideas that strive to recreate nature’s poetic wonders through beauty, which with spirituality goes hand in hand. Our heritage keeps us strong.
Bringing out the rhythm of nature has been an aim of humankind since time immemorial and dance mirrors the ideas of philosophers who debated the ‘totality of all things’, both past and future; that which is in a constant and dynamic state of transformation.
We all need opportunities to pause in our daily lives to celebrate and embrace concepts of beauty and the skills required for humans to bring them to fruition in a world where dance helps to connect our communities and cultures in a way like no other.
The Australian Ballet announced their 2015 season recently will be all about projecting “A Year of Beauty’. The season program for 2015 is also offering lavish and beautiful music; great compositions designed to add emotion and drama to dance, rhythms that helped to fashion the ideas surrounding our world’s physical beauty.
Music Director and Chief Conductor of musical works for The Australian Ballet Nicollete Frailon commented…“The music for our 2015 season is incredibly diverse… from the early 19th-century beginnings of ballet music through to sophisticated works in which music, emotion and drama closely match staging and steps, to avant-garde, out-there-sounding scores.”
The program ensures all those who love their ballet beautiful will be well catered for. Renowned artistic director and former Principal Dancer of The Australian Ballet David McAllister AM noted when he unveiled the program that it included a stunning new production of The Sleeping Beauty…
‘We have our own unique Australian beauty, powered by athleticism. He continued to say, “Our dancers have a power and strength that is dynamic and exciting. They are fearless and optimistic and thrive on the myriad of challenges of ballet in the 21st century, and their diversity beautifully reflects our rich and inclusive Australian culture.”’
The year will commence with the ‘tragic beauty’ of Australian contemporary dancer and choreographer Graeme Murphy’s modern classic of the traditional Swan Lake, the tale featuring ‘massed swans en point’.
Next on the program will be the glorious Giselle, surely the ideal of ‘romantic ballet beauty’ with its ideas of love, tragedy and unearthly glamour.
He then left to become its new Artistic Director in July 2001.
The Dream will celebrate England’s choreographer and danseur extraordinaire Sir Frederick Ashton, by providing an ‘evening of wonder’ for the whole family.
Ashton during a stellar career specialized in ‘enchanting beauty’, dancing himself as one of the ‘ugly sisters’ in Cinderella, which is also on the program.
However this time Cinderella the ballet will have a dramatic twist, as choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, a master of the modern story ballet.
His all-new look embraces a combination of graceful, stylishness, distinction, and a display of good taste in appearance, behaviour and movement, projecting ingenious simplicity.
For those who admire beauty in physicality the year will climax with a stunning new work 20:21, celebrating the physical extremes of ballet today with an ‘electrifying triple bill’, putting forward ideas of ‘modern beauty’ in the worlds of body and dance in our age.
Social media has also been employed by The Australian Ballet so that everyone can interact, providing their ideas about what ‘beauty’ is, and what it means for them.
Australia is a country built on concepts of honour, bravery, service and self-sacrifice. A central objective for all those who died to defend it, as well as those still fighting to preserve it, and those immigrants who have chosen it to live in it, is surely all about its ideas embracing home, family, love and beauty.
Marrying Queensland born Mary McKendry a principal of the Royal Ballet School at London, Cunxin made guest appearances with The Australian Ballet during his sixteen year dance career in the west after defecting from China – Mao’s last dancer.
A contemporary dance colleague of McAllister at The Australian Ballet during their careers, in 2015 Cunxin will present another beauteous year of ballet.
Today Li Cunxin and David McAllister are both very accomplished men, representing not only the world of ballet in Australia, but also its ever expanding culture of creativity. It has been my privilege over the years to watch them grow from young ballet boys to being the outstanding men they are today.
Passionate about combining the art of dance, music and design, like McAllister, Cunxin also has a considerable history of doing things very well indeed.
We can be sure that he will bring all the vital elements that make a ballet successful; glorious music, beauty of movement, captivating choreography, supreme dancer’s skills so that the audience will be left stunned and collectively sighing for more.
When he took over The Queensland Ballet in 2012, Cunxin understood just how important it was for a company of youthful ballet dancers to be shaped by an inspiring leader.
He is certainly that. Ever since he has provided The Queensland Ballet artists and students with an excellent role model, one with new insight who has made significant innovative advances in both technique and performance.
The Queensland Ballet with their program in 2015 will prove that ‘fairytales are back in fashion’.
First up they will present La Sylphide, Danish choreographer Peter Schaufuss’s ideal of ‘captivating beauty’, which will be beautifully conceived and danced.
Adapted from a ballet first produced in 1836, inspired by an earlier French work, this romantic and most beautiful work has become a favourite with ballet goers over the period since.
It is all about the longing experienced when reaching for what is an unattainable love. Graceful, dramatic, it is one of the most loved of all the romantic ballets.
Coppélia, where the action takes place in a mysterious toy workshop, has changed.
In ballet master Greg Horsman’s version, this fabulous tale has been transported through time to Australia, fashioned on the real-life stories of 19th century German immigrants to the South Australian town of Hahndorf. It’s a ‘touching witty work with endearing characters, joyful dance and the charming music of Léo Delibes’.
Then everyone, adults and kids alike can be transported to Neverland with the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan.
Everyone’s favourite fairytale is a fine choice if you are introducing loved ones to the world of ballet.
The much celebrated playwright and twentieth century author James Matthew (J.M.) Barrie did not want to ever face the pain and unhappiness of the adult world, so he created the magical world of ‘Neverland’; a place where we can all go, at least in our minds, when we need time out for inner refreshment.
Peter Pan remains a child, although we have all grown up as this version has. Trey McIntyre offers a brilliant mix of dance and theatre, re-interpreting J M Barrie’s famous story with wit, verve and a distinctly modern spirit.
Then plummeting everyone back into the world of new exciting talent, Dance Dialogues; will provide further opportunities for emerging young choreographers to provide a glimpse of the ideas surrounding ‘contemporary beauty’.
The Queensland Ballet will then present its all new The Sleeping Beauty, a ‘stunning beauty’ piece choreographed by Greg Horsman, who was also another contemporary colleague of Cunxin and McAllister at the Australian Ballet where they all danced the role of a prince many times.
This piece will definitely be about visual beauty, keeping true to the spirit of the traditional beauty, while providing an overall effect of contemporary beauty to be enjoyed by all.
Ben Stevenson’s traditional The Nutcracker will provide Queenslander’s with their ‘Xmas beauty’
Ballet beauty is for the viewer all about refreshing the heart. Throughout the history of our world it is a style of beauty that has driven us forward in every age and in every aspect of our arts and cultural development.
The passionate interest of the French Sun King Louis XIV (1638-1715) ensured that he became the champion of both beauty and the ballet in his Chateau at Versailles during the 17th century.
This is where from being a court spectacle and at first an aspect of opera, ballet eventually emerged as an entity of its own to be celebrated, admired and enjoyed by all.
Sustaining a creative Australia, one that is inclusive and whose people show respect and regard for each other is important.
Achieving their ballet aims will depend on both their teams producing a fine balance between the sumptuous and simplicity.
With two ‘good men’ at the helm there is no doubt it will happen and that we will all have an opportunity to observe beauty through painterly scenes of ballet perhaps made to last a thousand years.
In the contemporary pieces ballet’s restraint of beauty will also be sure to be underlined by a pervasive patience, one we can scarcely comprehend, although one that has meant we continue to endure from generation to generation.
It is also an idea that ensures the ballet artist whether they are a dancer, administrator, musician, choreographer, cobbler, costume maker, set designer or a set mover will each contribute their considerable skills to creating ‘splendour on stage’.
Australia’s best ballet boys David McAllister AM and Li Cunxin are inspiring subscribers, introducing a whole new generation to the beauty of dance by taking them back to the future.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014
The Australian Ballet – Season 2015
The Queensland Ballet – Season 2015