Dance Matters: The Swan from Oz

May 31, 2012

To mark The Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary, the full company travels halfway around the world to land at Lincoln Center this month.

The program includes a new piece created in partnership with Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia’s preeminent indigenous dance company. Warumuk—in the dark night, choreographed by Stephen Page, seamlessly combines the two groups of dancers, retelling traditional stories about the night sky. The grounded and fluid style of Bangarra director Page stands in contrast with the upright shapes of ballet.

will appear in a mixed bill with Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929, which, according to artistic director David McAllister, “is a real benchmark piece for the company. It’s a sleek, 21st-century ballet,” set to a Steve Reich score.

For McAllister, director for the last 10 years, this tour embodies the company motto, “Caring for tradition, daring to be different.” The largest dance company in Australia, TAB employs 69 dancers and tours to several cities each year. Based in Melbourne, it performs a broad repertoire of classical ballet, with roots in the British style, and contemporary work. The company has a flexible approach to casting, with a policy of choosing the dancer who is suited for the role, regardless of rank.

Former Sydney Dance Company director Graeme Murphy has created some of the company’s most popular work. Murphy’s reimagining of Swan Lake, which will have its U.S. premiere at the David H. Koch Theater June 15, features a love triangle involving fragile heroine Odette, unfaithful Prince Siegfried, and a domineering Baroness (Odile). Gorgeous staging, intricate partnering, and a more realistic narrative have made this Swan an international favorite.

The company has not performed in NYC in 13 years. McAllister acknowledges that it’s going to be a tough season but says, “We’ve been well received in the past, and the company is in a strong position artistically and technically. We have the ability to really tell a story and move an audience.”


Amber Scott and Adam Bull in Graeme Murphy’s
Swan Lake. Photo by Liz Ham, Courtesy TAB.