West Australian Ballet live under the stars

Posted on: 5/2/2018 11:00AM

West Australian Ballet’s 2018 Summer SeasonPerth audiences are in for yet another treat with the return of West Australian Ballet’s Summer Season – Ballet at the Quarry. Proving the hottest Perth Festival ticket in town, the mixed-bill program of contemporary ballet has sold to capacity in its previous four years.


Set to run from this Friday, February 9 to Saturday, March 3, Milky Way: Ballet at the Quarry will again treat audiences to a series of four short works.


This season’s namesake work, Milnjiya, Milky Way – River of Stars is over a year in the making. The piece is a groundbreaking national collaboration between Gary Lang NT Dance Company, WAB and Opera Artist Deborah Cheetham AO, which brings together two Aboriginal nations, the Larrakia and Yorta-Yorta, ballet and opera as choreographer Gary Lang re-tells his mother’s Yolngu Milky Way creation story. It will feature dancers from both WAB and Gary Lang NT Dance Company, as well as traditional cultural artists from Yirrkala.


French choreographer Claude Brumachon will present Les Indomptés, a “dual flight” full of energy. Since it’s world premiere in 1992, the piece has been performed all over the world and has traditionally been performed by two brothers. Les Indomptés will make its Australian premiere at Milky Way: Ballet at the Quarry. It seeks to let the vocalism of movement vibrate.


WAB’s own Demi-Soloist Christopher Hill will also enchant audiences once again. Following his beautiful work, The Clearest Light, presented at Ballet at the Quarry 2017, Hill now premieres a new duet for two women entitled Ghost Gum. The piece explores the relationship between earth and water… would one survive without the other?


Having created and re-staged over 50 works around the world and known for his fluid contemporary choreography, French choreographer Patrick Delcroix joins WAB for the first time, bringing one of his magnificent works to the people of Perth – Paradise Within. 


Collaborating with Gary Lang NT Dance Company and creating a piece that was uniquely Australian had been a dream of WAB Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella for years. “Gary Lang’s choreography is very lyrical. It’s very classical. It’s not only Aboriginal movements. It’s not classical ballet. It’s the two styles combined,” he explains.


While WAB has commissioned Aboriginal choreographers before (Debris by Frances Rings in 2007 and Munaldjali by Stephen Page in 2004), this is the first time the ballet company has collaborated with an Aboriginal Dance Company and it has been paramount for WAB that the piece was created with all cultural protocols being followed.


“It was a priority of WAB to make sure we went out onto Yolngu Country and received formal permission from Gary Lang’s cultural Elders to tell their family’s story,” explains WAB Executive Director Jessica Machin.


Opera Artist Deborah Cheetham AO explains Milnjiya, Milky Way – River of Stars has the potential to be a game changer: “The final movement is about the release of the soul that is trapped here in the physical world and it’s release into the spiritual world. All across Australia we are still in the grip of a shared history that remains unacknowledged. There is a sadness, and at times anger and fear, from the torment of the spirits who remain here that aren’t able to make it to the spirit world. I think for the audience and the performers this piece can really fast track what it is to have a shared future.”


WAB and Gary Lang NT Dance Company also ran a number of professional workshops with Gary Lang himself. They included a combination of ballet, contemporary technique, cultural steps and gestures derived from traditional dance and the chance to work on repertoire from Lang.


Continuing its mission to enrich people’s lives through dance, WAB will present Milky Way: Ballet at the Quarry to the general public alongside special dedicated performances for people with limited access to the arts.


For more information or bookings, visit www.waballet.com.au. All performances of Milky Way: Ballet at the Quarry will be at Quarry Amphitheatre, City Beach.


Photo courtesy of WAB.



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