West Australian Ballet announce Season 2023

West Australian Ballet’s Jack Whiter, Polly Hilton and Alexa Tuzil. Photo © Finlay Mackay

Celebrating Aurelien Scannella’s 10th Year as Artistic Director

West Australian Ballet

Australia’s oldest professional ballet company, West Australian Ballet, is looking ahead to a year of creativity as the Company prepares to premiere a selection of new classical and contemporary works in six production seasons, as well as a four-stop regional tour.

Celebrating his 10th anniversary as Artistic Director and a recent knighthood from the Royal Family of Belgium, Aurélien Scannella notes Season 2023 will allow audiences to experience a world like no other with ballet cornerstones set to take the stage alongside a major full-length creation.

“2023 will be a year of innovation and intrigue, with a deeply emotional and historical story and many of WA’s favourite choreographers returning with great new premieres,” said Scannella.

“I’m proud to have been Artistic Director of this versatile, ambitious and historic company for 10 years. As in each year of my tenure, I hope that audiences see our great creativity and world-class technical standards in each and every performance.”

West Australian Ballet will open Season 2023 with its 30th year at the Quarry Amphitheatre. IN Cognito: Ballet at the Quarry will feature four works at the starlit limestone quarry including from prominent American choreographer Helen Pickett, awarded Australian choreographer Alice Topp and acclaimed Polish Choreographer Robert Bondara, who returns to City Beach with two works.

Bendigo-born Alice Topp will work with West Australian Ballet for the first time as she choreographs a new work for the Quarry stage. Known for her strong vision and collaborative work with dancers throughout the creation process, Topp was made Resident Choreographer at The Australian Ballet in 2018.

Robert Bondara will return after his successful Australian premiere of Take Me with You in 2022, to stage two of his awarded works. The first is Verses, a short duo performance featuring music by multi-instrumentalist and producer Ólafur Arnalds. The second is Persona [Fratres] which premiered for the Polish National Ballet in 2011. The piece is a meaningful trio set to Arvo Pärt’s classical composition and exploring human existence within the confines of society. Described as having “one of the most brilliant ballet careers in the last decade”, Bondara’s performances will be sure to delight audiences.

In a major coup, popular American choreographer and creator of over 40 ballets for stage and film, Helen Pickett will bring the title work to Ballet at the Quarry, with her technical and expressive IN Cognito set to make its Australian premiere. Inspired by author Tom Robbins’ book Villa Incognito, Pickett’s piece sees the people of Cognito race with time, wrestle with furniture, hide and re-find their identities, and waltz with abandon.

As the 30th iteration of Ballet at the Quarry closes, West Australian Ballet’s dancers will be rapidly preparing for a four-stop regional tour with West Australian Ballet taking a Gala performance to Karratha, Bunbury and Mandurah along with their popular 30-minute children’s ballet Peter and the Wolf in all locations as well as Port Hedland. For the Company, this will be their first time returning to Bunbury since 2017, with the active regional touring program featuring a number of public workshops and school activities alongside the performances.

In May, West Australian Ballet will return to its home in the city, His Majesty’s Theatre, with a classical ballet triple-bill, Ballet to BroadwayJavier Torres returns to Perth’s century-old Edwardian theatre with Raymonda Act III after his extravagant The Sleeping Beauty featured as Perth’s Christmas season in 2021. First premiered in 1898 by Marius Petipa, Raymonda Act III is a lively and joyous depiction of Raymonda and Jean de Brienne’s wedding, with a number of colourful variations and stunning costumes.

In celebration of their 10th year at West Australian Ballet, Aurélien Scannella and Artistic Associate Sandy Delasalle will return to the choreographer’s chair and create the beautiful, romantic pas de deux from Sylvia. The charming French fairy tale is a historic classic first choreographed by Louis Mérante, with the pas de deux being performed extensively around the world.

The final work in Ballet to Broadway will be iconic choreographer George Balanchine’s Who Cares? which was first performed by West Australian Ballet in 2015. This jazzy, effervescent work set to the sounds of Gershwin is a well-known audience favourite featuring large ensembles and snappy variations from four principal dancers. Ballet to Broadway opens from 5 May 2023 for a joyful and romantic mix of beloved ballets.

In June and July, West Australian Ballet’s winter contemporary season, STATE returns for nine provocative performances. After unfortunate cancellations due to the pandemic in 2021, Melanie Lane and Adam Alzaim will return to Heath Ledger Theatre with their staged works Slow Haunt and GAINSBOURG respectively. After acclaim received on the opening night of the 2021 showing, both Lane and Alzaim will create a Part II to their works, staged with Part I at STATE. Lane’s Slow Haunt was a previous winner of Performing Arts WA’s prestigious ‘Outstanding Achievement by an Interstate Artist’ award, and Alzaim’s GAINSBOURG has been lauded as “hilariously absurd” by Dance Australia and “ingenious and original” by The West Australian.

In a major world premiere, West Australian Ballet’s Season 2023 will feature a new biographical work on the life and art of revered Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh. An all-Dutch creative team will build West Australian Ballet’s new Van Gogh, with choreographer Wubkje Kuindersma returning to Perth after receiving critical acclaim for her work Architecture of Hope at Ballet at the Quarry 2020. Kuindersma will be joined by Tatynana Van Walsum who will create period costumes and sets, and Anthony Fiumara will create a bespoke composition for the full-length ballet. Premiering at His Majesty’s Theatre on 8 September 2023, Van Gogh will be a thrilling and emotive look into the legendary painter’s, at times, harrowing life.

As the finale to Season 2023, and after a three-year hiatus, West Australian Ballet’s beloved Christmas ballet The Nutcracker will return to stage. With close to 50,000 attendees since its premiere, The Nutcracker remains Perth’s festive favourite, with the enchanting score by Tchaikovsky performed by the West Australian Philharmonic Orchestra and choreography from Jayne SmeuldersSandy Delasalle and Aurélien Scannella.

Scannella’s knighthood came as COVID lockdowns were occurring in early 2020, with a ceremony taking place in Perth in mid-2021. His full title now includes ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre de Léopold’, (Knight of the Order of Leopold).

In 2023 West Australian Ballet will continue to host a raft of educational activities including the ever-popular Adult Ballet Classes at the West Australian Ballet Centre in Maylands, along with countless workshops, school and community matinées and regional engagement activities. The Company also thanks it’s many supporters, both corporate and private, who continue to lead its expansion.

Season Packages are on-sale from 7:00pm Thursday 13 October, with general tickets released on 1 November. For more on West Australian Ballet’s Season 2023, visit waballet.com.au

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