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Australian Ballet UK Tour 2005
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Feb 08, 2005 4:19 am ]
Post subject:  Australian Ballet UK Tour 2005

Good migrations
Australia is bringing its splendid isolation to Britain
By Debra Craine for The Times

IF DANCE is a great calling card for a culture, then Australia has embarked on an unprecedented cultural assault. In the next six months the country’s top three dance companies are all coming to Britain.

The invasion starts this week, with the arrival of Australian Dance Theatre for a seven-week UK tour....Sydney Dance Company visits the Brighton Festival in May with the European premiere of a full-length piece by the American Stephen Petronio, Underland...And this summer the Australian Ballet, the flagship classical company from Melbourne, returns to Britain for the first time in 12 years with a new version of Swan Lake.

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Author:  kurinuku [ Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Australian Ballet UK Tour 2005

Australian Talent Graces the British Stages
by LEISA PARK for the Epoch Times

“Graeme’s Swan Lake shows what Australian classical dance is like now,” said McAllister. “We have tried to bring back the emotion. You won’t see a Swan Lake like it anywhere in the world.”

April 4, 2005

Author:  kurinuku [ Thu Jul 07, 2005 11:55 am ]
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Swan Lake: A right royal romp
The Australian Ballet's 'Swan Lake' imagines Charles and Diana as the doomed lovers. What a twist, says JENNY GILBERT

The novelty is that Murphy has swapped the flaky Germanic folk-tale plot about an enchanted swan-maiden betrayed by a prince for a royal tragedy very much closer to home.

published: July 7, 2005

Author:  kurinuku [ Mon Jul 11, 2005 1:07 pm ]
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Meet Odette, the princess of wails
by VALERIE LAWSON for the Sydney Morning Herald

Not that the company, which leaves Australia today, is playing the Camilla card too strongly in advance publicity for its tour of Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake. "We never wanted it to be a bio-ballet," McAllister has told the press in Britain, but real-life similarities with Diana, Charles and Camilla are unavoidable in the 2002 production choreographed by Murphy and designed by Kristian Fredrikson.

published: July 8, 2005

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:34 am ]
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Heres what The Times thought of it: ... 27,00.html

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jul 17, 2005 6:04 am ]
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The Australian Ballet, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
By Jann Parry for The Observer.

The Australian Ballet, returning to the UK after a 12-year gap, brings an account of Swan Lake glamorous enough to convince sceptics that ballet can tell a contemporary story as well as a mythical one. The 70-strong company, which opened in Cardiff, comes to the London Coliseum this week, head-to-head with the Kirov's iconic Swan Lake, at the start of its summer season. The Australian version, by Graeme Murphy, is more like Matthew Bourne's radical all-male revision of the ballet, although Murphy retains the swan maidens (and their pointe shoes).

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Swan Lake
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian

Just when it seemed that Royal love triangles were the oldest news, Australian Ballet arrive in Britain with a Swan Lake blatantly inspired by the three-in-a-marriage story of Camilla, Charles and Di. Choreographer Graeme Murphy has re-cast the ballet so that its heroine Odette becomes the innocent bride of playboy Prince Siegfried while her twin nemeses Odile and Von Rothbart are conflated into Baroness von Rothbart the Prince's older mistress who stops at nothing to dispatch her fragile rival.

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Dipping their toes in the lake
For The Daily Telegraph, Ismene Brown reviews Swan Lake by the Australian Ballet at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

One day soon, I hope, the Maryinsky/Kirov Ballet will research, fix and preferably copyright the authentic 1895 version of Swan Lake, and so-called choreographers will just have to stop tinkering about with this icon of poetic dance.

For its welcome visit to Cardiff and London, Australian Ballet has whipped up plenty of publicity froth over the possible Diana-Charles-Camilla congruences in their 2002 version by Graeme Murphy, but it's a relief to find nothing so vulgar, merely that staple situation of classical ballet and Jerry Springer, the man torn between two women.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Jul 18, 2005 12:57 am ]
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Australian National Ballet, Cardiff Millennium Centre
By Jenny Gilbert for The Independent on Sunday

Given our exposure to so many tinkerings with Swan Lake, it's hard to believe another could surprise or move us. Yet here it is. Graeme Murphy's version for Australian Ballet isn't radical in the way of Matthew Bourne's. It has girls on pointe, a moonlit lake and a cast of 60, plus a score restored to the order Tchaikovsky intended. It doesn't subvert expectations so much as gratify the old ones in terms of spectacle and grandeur, avian imagery and acres of classical steps.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Jul 21, 2005 8:58 am ]
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Last night's opening of Australian Ballet's "Swan Lake" at the Coli received a standing ovation - a first at this venue in my experience. Nevertheless, this new ballet divided opinions sharply among the critics I spoke to: everything from "wonderful" to a "a ragbag".

For me, it is a fine example of ballet theatre with excellent designs, innovative choreography and a coherent, new plot focusing on a strong triangle of relationships with fine portrayals. My guess is that those who enjoy Northern Ballet Theatre and many others will love it to bits. See it if you can.

Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Jul 21, 2005 11:30 am ]
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Sacred Cow or Old Warhorse?

Swan Lake
The Australian Ballet
London Coliseum
20th July 2005

So what is your attitude to Swan Lake? Do you regard it as sacrosanct or is its delectable score up for grabs by any choreographer attracted by it? Personally I see it as something of an old warhorse, all too frequently performed by dancers that are apparently on automatic pilot with Odette/Odile’s caring not a whit about any deeper meaning the role might have but instead using it as an excuse to display ever exaggerated poses and their grotesquely high extensions. Matz Ek once wisely observed that there were only two ways of presenting Swan Lake: either preserve the work in its traditional form without any new fangled embellishments or totally disregard it by starting again from scratch. The Australian Ballet has decided on the latter course.

To all intents and purposes this “Swan Lake” is totally new with a different, though not entirely dissimilar storyline, it is however inspired by the original, and I use the word inspired in its most noble sense as choreographer Graeame Murphy has adapted some of the familiar Ivanov choreography in the lake scenes in ways reminiscent of a composer writing variations on an original theme and in doing so he has created choreography every bit as memorable as that of Ivanov’s.

The plot is straight forward enough: Prince Siegfried marries a sensitive young girl, Odette, who is put into a lakeside asylum after her hysterical reaction to her new husband’s blatant affair with a married woman. Her escape is to a dream world peopled with swan maidens and where her husband loves her. Eventually she recovers sufficiently to be allowed out of the sanatorium and with a newly acquired sense of self-confidence she attempts to reclaim Siegfried’s affection. She succeeds only too well, causing her rival to summon Odette’s psychiatrist to remove her back to the asylum. Odette flees and is pursued by Siegfried back to the lake but after an ecstatic reunion, she realizes her only escape from her troubled existence is suicide. She throws herself into the lake leaving her husband alone to ponder on his actions and come to terms with his loss.

This is of course very close to the traditional Swan Lake where Siegfried is blinded by lust and forgetful of his earlier vow, but it also calls to mind that other ballet heroine, Giselle who loses her mind when her lover’s unfaithfulness is revealed to her. For a British audience its hard not to start thinking of the unhappy fate of Princess Diana who entered into a sham marriage identical to the one depicted here; there is also, nearer to home for Australians, the case of sad Princess Masako of Japan, suffering from mental illness due to the stifling influences of a reactionary court. Monarchies may be an anachronism in the 21st century, but they still claim vulnerable female victims as they have throughout history.

Graeme Murphy tells his story well, opening with a prologue showing the royal bridegroom (Stephen Heathcote) cavorting with his mistress, Baroness von Rothbart (Lynette Wills) on the very eve of his wedding. The opening scene is set at the wedding reception for the royal couple in a lakeside garden, where Siegfried presents tiny, delicate Odette (Madeleine Eastoe) to the assembled guests. Odette is sensitive to the artificial atmosphere and clearly hurt when criticised by the cold overbearing queen. Baroness Rothbart enters, the very picture of respectability with her cuckolded husband and two cute children in tow and before long it becomes plain that she isn’t just a platonic friend of the prince and Odette reacts with despair. Murphy’s use of the music here is perfect, adapting the familiar pas de trois to a danced ménage a trois where we see that of the three locked into the marriage, it will be Odette who misses out. Perhaps a visual reference to those sex surveys that tell us that after physical attractiveness it is sexual skill that most attracts men to a woman, and Baroness von R. appears to possess everything that Odette lacks in that respect. Rejected on her wedding day, distraught Odette goes berserk, literally flinging herself frantically at the male guests much to the embarrassment of the assembled company. The men in white coats are swiftly summoned (or in this case nuns in white habits and overlarge headdresses) and together with a psychiatrist, Odette is gently led away leaving the coast clear for Siegfried’s scheming mistress.

In the second act, Odette sits wistfully in front of her window looking out onto the lake; she is roughly forced into a bath to undergo some kind of water therapy before resuming her seat by the window. As she gazes out the walls dissolve and she enters the world of the swan maidens dancing in the moonlight. This second act comes closest to Ivanov’s original with the swans arranged in original groupings of profound beauty as the backdrop to Odette’s romantic pas de deux with her erring but still beloved husband. One marvellous joke: Murphy retains the dance of the four swans almost intact, almost but not quite, as he introduces amusing little variations that could fool all but the most experienced Swan Lake watchers. The dream ends and Odette is back at her window realizing it was all just a fantasy.

The prince is holding a soiree with his male cronies in the third act; they are joined by their posh totty girl friends and, inevitably, the Baroness. Confident in her unshakeable hold over Siegfried, the guests are cynically accepting of her position. To the music that normally signals the entry of the black swan, Odette appears, beautiful and self-assured. As she dances, the prince falls under her spell, to the fury of the Baroness who summons Odette’s keepers from the asylum. Odette runs off with Siegfried in hot pursuit as von Rothbart realizes her hold over the prince is finally broken. Back at the lakeside Odette and Siegfried dance a final pas de deux tinged with the sadness of parting and framed by the grieving swans that she has come to identify with. Unable to cope with her emotions, Odette throws herself into the lake to condemn Siegfried to a future life of loneliness.

There is so much to admire in this production, sets and costumes by Kristian Fredrikson are superb, the most attractive I’ve seen in the last couple of years and the lighting design by Damien Cooper added to the sense of mystery in the lakeside scenes, creating a romantic setting of soft dappled moonlight that suits the work perfectly. The use of the music has I’m told, upset a lot of people as they can’t come to terms with Tchaikovsky’s music played out of sequence. For me though any misgivings I might have had were negated by the beautiful playing by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Nicolette Fraillon, who adhered to the tempi pretty much in its original form. What a pleasure it was to listen to that wonderful score without the long drawn out passages demanded by present day ballerinas unable to dance except to music mutilated to fit their personal (and usually unlovely) style of movement.

I’ve been watching the Australian ballet since I first saw them in a Nureyev version of Raymonda in 1965, but sadly their London visits have become fewer and farther between lately. On this showing they are in very good shape with exemplary performances at all levels, but in an outstanding cast it will be Madeleine Eastoe’s tragic porcelain princess that will live in my memory the longest. This was without doubt the finest work to new classical choreography I have seen in a very long time.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Jul 21, 2005 11:56 am ]
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Thanks a lot, Cassandra, for this speedy and detailed review. And I agree that there is plenty to admire in the Australian Ballet production.

Not everyone shares our view, which is fair enough, of course. However, one newspaper review I read today reported that the author became confused as Odette and Baroness Rothbart wore similar clothes and couldn't be told apart. As their costumes looked markedly different to me, I was not confused on this point for one micro-second of the production; I am exceedingly confused as to the source of the scribe's confusion.

Author:  kurinuku [ Fri Jul 22, 2005 6:30 am ]
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Swan Lake, Coliseum, London
by CLEMENT CRISP for the Financial Times

The sure proof of his success is in the security of the Australian ensemble, their style frank, bright-cut, and in the fine trio of principals. Madeleine Eastoe as Odette is an outstanding artist of extraordinary range and unfailing power; Lynette Wills is a darkly glamorous Baroness; Steven Heathcote is a commanding dramatic artist as Siegfried, with every feeling true, and a sublime partner.

published: July 22 2005

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jul 24, 2005 4:14 am ]
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Australian Ballet's "Swan Lake"
David Dougill for The Sunday Times

The Australian Ballet’s Swan Lake, which I saw at the company’s pre-London run in Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre, is quite a different animal. Created in 2002 for this prestigious troupe’s 40th anniversary, the choreo-grapher Graeme Murphy and his co-scenarist Janet Vernon’s reinterpretation jettisons the old story in favour of the entanglements of an all-human trio. Prince Siegfried, the heir apparent, weds an innocent young wife, Odette, who quickly discovers that he has an older, won’t-let-go mistress, Baroness von Rothbart. So there are three in the marriage. Sounds familiar? Various other characters (queen, consort, royal siblings) make far from accidental allusions to a family close to home.

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Author:  kurinuku [ Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:53 am ]
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Australian Ballet: Swan Lake, Coliseum, London
by ZOE ANDERSON for the Independent

In tinkering with Swan Lake, Murphy keeps the swans but writes out any need for them. Why should Odette dream of swans in her sanatorium? Because this is Swan Lake; because we have to get the corps de ballet in somehow.

published: July 26, 2005

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