The White Stripes, Mozart and Tchaikovsky unite for an electrifying triple bill that bursts the boundaries of ballet

The White Stripes, Mozart and Tchaikovsky unite for an electrifying triple bill that bursts the boundaries of ballet

Natasha Kusen and Andrew Killian in Chroma. Photography Paul Scala

Natasha Kusen and Andrew Killian in Chroma. Photography Paul Scala

Sydney audiences are in for a choreographic explosion this May when The Australian Ballet unleashes Chroma, a thrilling charge of live dance featuring the music of Mozart, Tchaikovsky and a rearrangement of alt-rockers The White Stripes. It will be complemented by the New York style and Parisian chic of double bill Imperial Suite.

Chroma makes its Australian debut at Sydney Opera House on 29 April and Imperial Suite on 2 May, before both travel to Melbourne in June.

The Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister, said the two productions, which will be performed in rep, offered something for everyone. “Audiences have the rare opportunity to see the work of three of the world’s most exciting choreographers of the day in Chroma, a sophisticated blend of classical and contemporary dance. Those who prefer a more traditional approach will be dazzled by the glittering technique of Imperial Suite that allows our dancers to flaunt their word-class talent,” said McAllister.

This electrifying mixed bill brings together works from three multi-award-winning choreographers; Wayne McGregor’s heart-pumping Chroma, Jiří Kylián’s complimentary works Petite Mort and Sechs Tänze; and a brand-new creation from resident choreographer Stephen Baynes, Art and Sky. The Australian premiere of Chroma is chock-full of the British wild-child Wayne McGregor’s signature energy and attack.

With a buzzing cinematic score by Joby Talbot and musical arrangements by Jack White III of The White Stripes, the dancers push their bodies to their extremes. Contrasting with McGregor’s colourful choreography is the all-white minimalist set by architect John Pawson and flesh-coloured costumes in subtle muted tones designed by Moritz Junge.

Renowned for his groundbreaking collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology and science, McGregor created Chroma in 2006 for The Royal Ballet, winning a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production as well as a Critics’ Circle Award.

Petite Mort & Sechs Tänze
Sharing the bill is Jiří Kylián’s “Mozart Double”, Petite Mort and Sechs Tänze – contemporary ballets meshed with the classical sounds of Mozart.

Created to commemorate the second centenary of Mozart’s death, Petite Mort (“little death”, a French euphemism for orgasm) is set to two of Mozart’s most popular piano concertos and features a playful use of props – from fencing foils to Baroque ball gowns that glide across the stage with the dancers.

As the light-hearted and humorous counterpart to Petite Mort, the slyly comic choreography of Sechs Tänze has the dancers writhing on the floor, contorting their bodies and making use of flexed feet. Channelling the style of Mozart’s day, the work features men in powdered wigs and beauty spots and is set to the composer’s Sechs Deutsche Tänze (Six German Dances).

Described by the New York Times as “one of the most influential choreographers of the last thirty years”, Kylián is famed for works that are choreographically adventurous, visually striking and rich in emotion.

Art and Sky
Complementing this diverse program is the world premiere of Art and Sky, a new work from Resident Choreographer Stephen Baynes and his first since the sell-out production of Swan Lake.

Art and Sky takes inspiration from one of Tchaikovsky’s lesser-known scores, Mozartiana – a loving-tribute to Tchaikovsky’s idol Mozart and written for the centenary of his opera Don Giovanni. Uncluttered by narrative, the dancers use movement to allude to the worlds that Tchaikovsky’s music evokes, from an 18th -century court, preserved in time, to the Romantic era of the 19th century.

Stephen Baynes joined The Australian Ballet in 1975 as a dancer, creating his first choreographic work Strauss Songs for the company during a workshop in 1986. Since making the transition to resident choreographer in 1995, Baynes has gone on to create more than 20 works for The Australian Ballet as well as a host of pieces for national and international dance companies.

Sydney (10 performances)
29 April – 17 May
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
with Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra

Melbourne (10 performances)
6 – 14 June
Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre
with Orchestra Victoria

George Balanchine and Serge Lifar’s 1940s neoclassical showpieces Ballet Imperial and Suite en blanc are the perfect complement to the contemporary masterworks of Chroma, showcasing clean lines, thrilling pointe work and a distinctive elegance in the double bill Imperial Suite.

Ballet Imperial
A sumptuous tutu ballet and one of George Balanchine’s masterworks, Ballet Imperial is a tribute to the choreographer’s Russian heritage and a display of pure classical brilliance. Set to a passionate Tchaikovsky score, the ballet is infused with the splendour of 19th-century Russia, and Hugh Colman’s midnight-blue, gold-accented tutus imbue the dancers with an aristocratic grace and nobility.

Suite en blanc
Suite en blanc is a one-act ballet that allows the dancers to showcase their talents in a series of thrilling crescendos. Dozens of ballerinas in snowy white tutus adorn symmetrical staircases, and inventive corps de ballet patterns frame solos, duos and trios.

This internationally acclaimed neoclassical showpiece was created by French choreographer Serge Lifar for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1943 and named it after its myriad of all-white tutus. It remains his most well-known work, and Lifar personally revived the original for The Australian Ballet in 1981, more than three decades after his first visit to our shores with the Ballets Russes in 1939.

Sydney (9 performances)
2 – 17 May
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House  with Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra

Melbourne (9 performances)
20 – 28 June
Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre  with Orchestra Victoria


CHROMA (2006)
Choreography  Wayne McGregor
Music Joby Talbot and Jack White III
Costume design Moritz Junge
Set design  John Pawson
Lighting design  Lucy Carter

Dance production/Choreography Jiří Kylián
Assistant to the choreographer  Patrick Delcroix
Music  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Andante (Piano Concerto no. 23 A-Major/KV  488) Adagio (Piano Concerto no. 21C-Major/KV 467)
Stage design  Jiří Kylian
Costume design  Joke Visser
Lighting design  Joop Caboort

Dance production  Jiří Kylián
Assistant to the choreographer  Patrick Delcroix
Music  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sechs Deutsche Tänze KV571(6 German Dances, KV571)
Costume and set design  Jiří Kylián
Lighting design  Joop Caboort

Choreography  Stephen Baynes
Costume design and stage concept  Hugh Colman
Lighting design  Rachel Burke

Running time
130 minutes with two intervals
Estimated finish time of 9.40pm

Choreography  George Balanchine
© The George Balanchine Trust
Music  Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Piano Concerto No.2 in G Major, Op. 44
Costume and set design  Hugh Colman
Lighting design  Rachel Burke

Choreography  Serge Lifar
Original Music  Edward Lalo
arranged by  Serge Lifar
Original lighting design  William Akers

Running time
101 minutes with one interval
Estimated finish time of 9.11pm

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