The Australian Ballet’s 50th year starts off with a bang

The Australian Ballet’s 50th year starts off with a bang

Graeme Murphy, Lana Jones, Gideon Obarzanek, Stephen Page. Photography Georges Antoni

Graeme Murphy, Lana Jones, Gideon Obarzanek, Stephen Page. Photography Georges Antoni


For immediate release Thursday 8 December 2011  

Infinity: Murphy, Obarzanek, Page together in a powerhouse triple bill

The Australian Ballet’s 50th year starts off with a bang

The Australian Ballet opens its milestone 50th year with a
bold statement about the future of dance. Infinity will see the world premiere
of three specially commissioned Australian works by Graeme Murphy, Gideon Obarzanek
and Stephen Page.
It’s the first time in the company’s history that a triple bill of three
new Australian works has been presented.

Murphy breaks away from his established narrative style with
an abstract work, The
Narrative of Nothing
; Obarzanek provides a fresh look at
classical ballet with a post-modern twist in There’s Definitely a Prince Involved;
and Page combines Western ballet with the spirituality of Indigenous dance
to forge new frontiers of storytelling in Warumuk – in the dark night. These
trailblazers each have unique choreographic sensibilities and will
thrillingly test the limits of what ballet can be.

The artistic director of The Australian Ballet, David
McAllister, believes Infinity
is an important program that illustrates the strength and diversity of
dance produced locally.

“We’ve worked incredibly hard over five decades to champion
not only Australian ballet, but dance of all forms,” explains McAllister.
“To feature three premiere works by all Australian choreographers says
loudly and proudly that this country is producing outstanding local dance
that is exciting, relevant and of an international standard.”

“All three choreographers have strong ties with the company as
either former students of The Australian Ballet School, dancers with the
company or past choreographic collaborators – in some cases all of the
above – so it’s a privilege to be premiering their works. It’s an amazing
way to start our 50th anniversary celebrations!” says McAllister.

Stephen Page, the founder and artistic director of Bangarra
Dance Theatre, is credited with putting Australian Indigenous dance on the
international stage. Warumuk
– in the dark night
follows three critically acclaimed
collaborations with The Australian Ballet.

Dancers from both companies will join in telling a collection
of traditional stories about the Evening Star. While past works Alchemy (1996), Rites (1997) and Amalgamate (2006)
fused ballet with Indigenous themes – this is the first time the two
companies have told an Indigenous narrative.

Having celebrated his 20th anniversary at the helm of Bangarra
in July this year, Page continues to reinvent Indigenous stories both
within his own company and through collaborations with other dance

Set to a score by multi-talented composer David Page, Warumuk – in the dark night
travels twelve hours in the nightly cycle of the Evening Star through seven
short traditional tales. This spiritually rich work features set design by
Jacob Nash and costumes by Jennifer Irwin.

Best known for his contemporary creations for Chunky Move, boundary-pushing
choreographer Gideon Obarzanek explores the psychology of ballet in the
cheekily titled There’s
Definitely a Prince Involved.

Obarzanek asked people “What is ballet?” and the range of answers
formed the basis for this new work. Delving into the history of ballet, he
unravels the myths and misconceptions surrounding the art form. In doing
so, he has discovered a new story of the heroic Prince figure present in so
many classic tales.

While taking inspiration from the past, Obarzanek’s sights are
squarely set on the future with bold costume designs by rising Australian
fashion star, Alexi Freeman.

This will be Obarzanek’s first major work after stepping down as artistic
director of Chunky Move and will mark the start of a new chapter for the
choreographer singled out by The
New York Times
as “a tour de force that will live long in the

Heralded by The
as “the master of movement invention”, Graeme Murphy takes
a step away from classic story ballets with his new abstract work

The Narrative of
  It’s a work that allows the audience to
appreciate a pure, pared back ballet from which to draw their own stories.

Murphy has a long-standing artistic relationship with

The Australian Ballet, as both a dancer and choreographer. Romeo & Juliet,
which premiered in 2011, was his latest work in a long list of popular
creations for the company, including Swan
Lake, Nutcracker – The Story of Clara
and Firebird.

Murphy knows the company’s dancers intimately, and will use
this knowledge to put their considerable strengths front and centre stage.

Underpinning the work will be the newly commissioned score by
composer of the moment Brett Dean, recently lauded for his award-winning
work Bliss
for Opera Australia.

These visionaries continue to expand the horizons of
Australian dance, showing that in the future, anything is possible.



Graeme Murphy

Creative associate Janet Vernon

Music Brett Dean

Costume and set design
Jennifer Irwin

Stage and lighting design Damien Cooper

Sound design Bob Scott


Gideon Obarzanek

Music Stefan Gregory after

Piotr Tchaikovsky

Costume design Alexi Freeman

Stage concept
Benjamin Cisterne and Gideon Obarzanek

Lighting design Benjamin Cisterne



Choreography Stephen Page

Music David Page

Costume design
Jennifer Irwin

Set design
Jacob Nash

Lighting design Padraig O Suillebhain



24 February – 6 March (13 performances)

the Arts Centre, State Theatre

with Orchestra Victoria


5 – 25 April (21 performances)

Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House

with Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra

or 1300 369 741

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