Australian Ballet celebrates its 50th anniversary next year with a program that sets out to embrace past and future. The 2012 season, announced yesterday, includes a gala performance with international guests; an event featuring more than half a dozen Australian dance companies; an all-new triple bill with works from Graeme Murphy, Stephen Page and Gideon Obarzanek; a new yet traditional Swan Lake and the return to the stage of the company's longest-serving principal, Steven Heathcote, for a special pas de deux.
AB artistic director David McAllister has invited West Australian Ballet, Queensland Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, Adelaide-based Australian Dance Theatre and Queensland's Expressions Dance Company and Dance North to take to the stage in Melbourne in June. Tasdance, which is touring at the time, will appear via film.
Despite its expansive flavour, the multi-company Let's Dance is too complicated a venture to put on the touring schedule, and will be seen in Melbourne only.
Australian Ballet resident choreographer Stephen Baynes also will create a more traditional Swan Lake, based on the classic Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov version, which opened the company's first season in 1962.
During the year, Sir Robert Helpmann's first work for the fledgeling company, The Display, which premiered at the 1964 Adelaide Festival, will head a triple-bill of pivotal works called Icons.