The Australian Ballet : Elegy: poetic reflections on life and spirituality

dancer in purple dress

Olivia Bell in Beyond Bach. Photo by Branco Gaica.

For immediate release Thursday 31 March 2011   

Elegy: poetic reflections on life and spirituality

A Melbourne-only season of two heavenly ballets

The Australian Ballet warms up the Melbourne
winter with Elegy, a Stephen Baynes double bill which explores the journey of human experience and celebrates timeless classical ballet.

For the very first time, The Australian Ballet and Victorian Opera will join forces to present a live opera chorus for Requiem, Baynes’ exploration of life after death. On stage for the work’s duration, 26 singers
will be incorporated into the set for this unforgettable production.

Sharing the double bill with Requiem is Beyond Bach, a lyrical celebration of classical dance.
opens for a Melbourne-only season on
9 June 2011.

Regarded as ‘the poet of The Australian Ballet’, Resident Choreographer Baynes tackles these
heady themes with his trademark sensitivity and

Artistic Director David McAllister views this double
bill as one of the highlights of The Australian Ballet’s
2011 repertoire.

“These two works are truly moving and are wonderful examples of Stephen’s many choreographic talents. The Victorian Opera Chorus during Requiem will add another sensory level to the audience experience,” says McAllister.

“I believe it’s going to be one of the most beautiful programs of the year.”

Despite the title, this is no funeral march. In keeping with Fauré’s vision to create a hymn that wasn’t sombre, Requiem is a peaceful contemplation on the fragility of life and inevitability of death.

Marilyn Jones, one of Australia’s greatest dancers, returns to the stage for Requiem. Jones appears in
the central role of a woman reflecting on her life.
As she travels the emotional journey of finding
serenity in life’s end, an ensemble of younger dancers represent stages of her experience in this poignant work.

A natural complement to Requiem is Baynes’
critically acclaimed Beyond Bach. In what The Australian Financial Review called “a love poem to
the form and structure of classical ballet”, Beyond Bach showcases the strength and technique of the company’s dancers.

As the title suggests, Baynes takes Bach to new planes and reaches to the very heart of his music. Various compositions are interwoven to create the perfect score for an uplifting series of partnerships
and ensembles; this is a seamless example of Baynes’ skill of making music ‘visible’.

Opening in an 18th-century church-like setting of baroque marble pillars dusted with gold, a woman shrouded in mystery appears in period costume
before being joined by modern-day dancers.
Revelling in the musicality of Bach, the choreography moves from thoughtful and spiritual to exuberant and joyful.

Long-time Baynes collaborator Anna French has created the costumes for both works in this program. Thoughtful moods are conjured with a dark palette in Requiem, contrasted by the light, sheer fabrics of Beyond Bach.

A divine marriage of ethereal ballet and exquisite music, Elegy will set spirits soaring.


Melbourne 9 – 18 June
(11 performances)
the Arts Centre, State Theatre
with Orchestra Victoria and Victorian Opera

Bookings or 1300 369 741

What the critics had to say:

“ … a gloriously integrated experience of dance,
music and design”
The Sydney Morning Herald on Requiem 2001

” … to watch Beyond Bach means not only seeing
the music, but enjoying the sensation of being
within it.”
The Australian Financial Review on
Beyond Bach 1995


Choreography Stephen Baynes
Music Johann Sebastian Bach
Costume design Anna French
Set design Andrew Carter
Lighting design Kenneth Rayner

REQUIEM (2001)
Choreography Stephen Baynes
Music Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem Op 48
Costume design Anna French
Set design Richard Roberts
Lighting design Nigel Levings

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