Contemporary force, classical sophistication: Counterpointe debuts exclusively in Sydney

Artists of The Australian Ballet - photo by Pierre ToussaintShowcasing the full spectrum of ballet’s evolution, The Australian Ballet will release its powerful and energetic program Counterpointe exclusively at the Sydney Opera House from 27 April to 15 May 2021.

This double bill program (with the addition of a stirring pas de deux) will combine the elegant 19th-century classic Raymonda with the vigour and attack of Artifact Suite by William Forsythe, an Australian Premiere. The program will be rounded out with the effervescent Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux by George Balanchine.

Counterpointe is the extremes of ballet colliding into one thrilling program. “Counterpointe shows the audience how ballet has changed throughout its artistic evolution,” said The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David Hallberg. “Starting with Raymonda; which is classical ballet at its most refined, gestural, and formal; it shows the dancer’s ability to master classical ballet at its most demanding and stylised.”

“Finishing the program is the Australian Premiere of Forsythe’s Artifact Suite. A powerful surge of physical prowess, it offers the audience and dancer equal pleasure in answering the question of how far the body can pull, reach, and stretch.

“It’s a perfect modern showcase for the talent of The Australian Ballet and an influential work that I’m thrilled to bring to Australian audiences for the very first time. Counterpointe is a powerfully energetic program that will drive the audience forward through ballet’s fascinating evolution,” said Mr Hallberg.

Audiences will have the pleasure of seeing The Australian Ballet’s stars revel in pure ballet as they dance the Act III wedding scene of Raymonda. Just as he did in The Sleeping Beauty and Paquita, Marius Petipa, the grandfather of classical ballet, makes the wedding of the hero and heroine an opportunity for a sparkling display of classical technique; its Hungarian-inflected dances culminate in one of ballet’s most famous solos for a leading ballerina.

The program then moves on to Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, one of Balanchine’s most enjoyable gala pieces, which takes the tradition of the Petipa grand pas de deux and colours it with modern and surprising touches.

Counterpointe will conclude with 45 minutes of powerful movement in Forsythe’s Artifact Suite, a stand-out example of this groundbreaking choreographer’s signature style, which revolutionised the European dance scene. Forsythe’s work, which stretches and speeds up classical technique, is popular among The Australian Ballet dancers, who relish its challenges.

Artifact Suite, an extract from a longer work Artifact, is set to Bach’s sublime Chaconne for solo violin and is contrasted with the repetitive urgency of piano pieces by composer Eva Crossman-Hecht.

Counterpointe is an experience not to be missed for the aficionado, and if you’re new to the art form, it’s a perfect introduction to ballet at the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Production Credits:

Artifact Suite
Choreography, stage, light and costume design: William Forsythe
Music: Part I – J.S. Bach Chaconne from Partita Nr.2 BWV 1004 in D-Minor performed by Nathan Milstein. Part II – Eva Crossman-Hecht

Choreography after Marius Petipa. Staged by David Hallberg
Music: Aleksandr Glazunov

Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux
Choreography George Balanchine ©The George Balanchine Trust
Music: Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky – Excerpt from Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act III

Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney
Season: 27 April – 15 May 2021
Information and Bookings:

Image: Artists of The Australian Ballet – photo by Pierre Toussaint