Left – Artists of the Australian Ballet in Ballet Imperial. Photo – The George Balanchine Trust
Imperial Suite is a swirling interplay of elegant lines, glittering pointe work and evocative orchestral music. The Australian Ballet’s performance features Ballet Imperial and Suite en blanc in a double bill that is a tribute to ballet’s heritage of impressive athleticism and dedicated technique.
Choreographed by George Balanchine, Ballet Imperial is a loving homage to the essence of Russian ballet. The Australian Ballet’s performance of Ballet Imperial is staged in its original form, creating a visual display of dancers in plush midnight-blue tutus, set against the backdrop of Tchaikovsky’s grand orchestral Piano Concerto No. 2. Exiled from Russia, Balanchine choreographed Ballet Imperial following his migration to America with a subsidy obtained from the United States government. Ballet Imperial dispenses with plot and brings a demanding repertoire of movement into sharp focus, celebrating the clarity of classical technique, while evoking the majesty of Russia’s imperial past.
Like Ballet Imperial, Suite en blanc focuses on dance over plot. Suite en blanc impresses immediately when the curtain is raised, to reveal an elaborate formation of dancers wearing white, holding pose against a black stage. Set to the music of Edouard Lalo, Suite en blanc was choreographed by Serge Lifar in 1943, once Lifar had left his homeland of Ukraine to join the Paris Opera Ballet. Like the work of Balanchine in Ballet Imperial, Suite en blanc is a blend of dance, history and country. It is at once fresh and innovative, while also remaining reminiscent of the classical ballet Lifar was taught in Kiev. Suite en blanc exhilarates with Lifar’s penchant for graceful lines and demanding technical expertise.
Imperial Suite allows the Australian Ballet dancers to shift seamlessly between a demanding repertoire of ballet technique in an exhibition of dance that highlights expressive lyrical lines, purity of movement and intricate gestures. In particular, the ballet dancers display beautiful pointe work, pinpoint turns, pirouettes and sweeping horizontal jumps that earn the appreciation and applause of the audience.
The performances in Imperial Suite are punctuated by Rachel Burke and William Akers’ wonderful lighting design, delicately reproduced by Graham Silver to add nuance and delicacy to the performance.
The Australian Ballet excels in Imperial Suite to perform a demanding program of ballet with effortless dedication and virtuosity.
The Australian Ballet presents
with Orchestra Victoria
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne | State Theatre
Dates: 20 – 28 June, 2014
Bookings: australianballet.com.au | 1300 369 741