Luke Forbes reviews 'Dancing Under the Southern Skies: A history of ballet in Australia' by Valerie Lawson
Valerie Lawson is a balletomane whose writing on dance encompasses newspaper articles and also articles and editorials for numerous dance companies. Lawson’s lavishly illustrated Dancing Under the Southern Skies, like Arnold Haskell’s mid-twentieth-century popular histories of ballet, substitutes stories about ballet and ballet dancers for a cohesive historical narrative about ballet in Australia. Portraits, images of ballet dancers posing in photographers’ studios, and ephemera are reproduced in the book; but the total sum of stage photos – of dancing – can be counted on one hand.... (read more)
What a luxury it is to have seen the ballet company of La Scala, Milan, on its first visit to Australia. An ensemble of sixty-six dancers, it has become, under the artistic direction of Frédéric Olivieri, a prized instrument of Italian culture. Established in 1788, it engaged with a new wave of contemporary choreographers ...... (read more)
The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s world première of The Piano: The Ballet, inspired by Jane Campion’s Oscar-winning film The Piano (1993), began the company’s program for 2018. It is the second ballet on the subject by Jiří and Otto Bubeníček, former and highly decorated principal dancers at Hamburg Ballet. Their first ...... (read more)
When Sergei Diaghilev staged The Sleeping Princess at the Alhambra Theatre, London, in 1921, he hoped to prove that classical ballet could be as popular as the outrageously glamorous West End hit, Chu Chin Chow, which ran for five years. Diaghilev invited the brilliant colourist Leon Bakst to design sets and costumes equal to those of the orig ...
At the closing performance of the Borovansky Ballet in 1961, Peggy van Praagh stepped onstage and spoke about the importance of founding an Australian ballet company. Harold Holt, the serving federal treasurer, went backstage to pledge his personal support. Van Praagh’s celebrated history as a dancer and director overseas made her the perfect candidate to run such ...