The Australian Ballet: Verve

TAB Verve Callum Linnane - photo by Taylor-Ferné MorrisCelebrating outstanding Australian choreographic talent bursting from within the ranks of The Australian Ballet, Verve brings together three high-octane ballets created by past and present company dancers in the State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne from 21 June 2018.

Two landmark works by The Australian Ballet resident choreographers Tim Harbour and Stephen Baynes, and the world premiere of a new work by Coryphée Alice Topp will showcase The Australian Ballet’s artistry and athleticism.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating the inventiveness of The Australian Ballet’s choreographic talent with three contemporary works from three different generations of dancemakers,” said The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister.

“We’re also excited to restage two benchmark works from our resident choreographers Tim Harbour and Stephen Baynes, and to unveil the beautiful new work Aurum by our talented Alice Topp. Both audiences and dancers will be challenged and delighted by our explosive Verve program.”

Tim Harbour’s Filigree and Shadow – which cruises the cutting edge of contemporary ballet, propelled him to choreographic stardom when it debuted in 2015. The combination of powerful, electrifying performances of the dancers, featured in sleek black and gun-metal grey against a monumental yet minimalist set, designed by renowned architect Kelvin Ho, and the dark, grinding electronic score by German duo 48nord make this a performance to be remembered.

The dancers’ extraordinary synchronized athleticism is lit by stark spotlights and washes of colour designed by Benjamin Cisterne, providing a perfect background for this darkly aggressive, modern ballet. Harbour has been a resident choreographer with The Australian Ballet since 2014 and has also created works for New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet, Christopher Wheeldon’s company Morphoses and Singapore Dance Theatre. His works have garnered multiple Green Room, Helpmann and Australian Dance Award nominations.

Stephen Baynes’ award-winning ballet Constant Variants debuted in The Australian Ballet’s 2007 New Romantics program and showcases this talented choreographer’s inventive neo-classical style. Dancers move in hypnotic, intricate, abstract formations to Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with its haunting solo cello. Michael Pearce’s compelling set design floats giant fragments of picture frames above a shadowy stage.

In 1995, Stephen Baynes was appointed one of The Australian Ballet’s resident choreographers. Since then he has created over 20 works for the company, including a full-length traditional version of Swan Lake in 2012. A multi-award-winning choreographer, Baynes received the Helpmann Award for Best Choreography in 2005 for Unspoken Dialogues; both Molto Vivace and Constant Variants have received the Betty Pounder Award for Best Choreography at the Green Room Awards.

Baynes has had works commissioned by New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, Queensland Ballet, West Australian Ballet and The Hong Kong Ballet.

Alice Topp debuted her first main-stage work Little Atlas to great acclaim in The Australian Ballet’s 2016 Symphony in C program. Her brand-new work Aurum was created especially for the Verve program with the support of a Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance awarded by The Joyce Theater in New York with major funding from the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation.

Topp’s new piece will continue the exploration of complex partnering and intense emotion that has been central to her earlier works. She will also renew her collaboration with designer Jon Buswell, whose mobile halo of lights captivated Little Atlas’ audiences. Alice Topp joined The Australian Ballet as a dancer in 2007. She has created four critically acclaimed pieces for the company’s Bodytorque series – a showcase for new Australian works.

State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne< 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 21 – 30 June 2018

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Image: Callum Linnane – photo by Taylor-Ferné Morris