As part of The Australian Ballet's 50th anniversary, the company is bringing together eight of the country's most exciting dance companies under the one roof. Let's Dance opens for a special Melbourne-only season on 7 June for 11 performances.
Companies from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria will converge to present a selection of divertissements showcasing the depth and range of Australian dance. This will be the first time each of the works is performed in Melbourne. Headlining the program is the premiere of a new ballet, Sweedeedee, by rising choreographic star Tim Harbour, alongside brand new works by Natalie Weir and Raewyn Hill.
A favourite of the world stage, Steven Heathcote, will return to his dancing days to star in Sweedeedee alongside his daughter Mia. This will be the first time the father-daughter pair have shared the spotlight.
Another popular alumna of The Australian Ballet, former Principal Artist Justine Summers, will star in Harbour's work. At the height of their careers Heathcote and Summers were a crowd-favourite pairing, with The Sun-Herald calling their 1999 Manon an "ideal match." Summers retired in 2000 and has not performed with the company since 2004.
Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister, believes this program is a one-off opportunity to see the best of Australian dance on the one stage.
"In our 50th year I wanted a program that recognised that dance is a thriving part of our cultural landscape. From stages to school halls, thousands of people are dancing across Australia every day," McAllister explains.
"It was also a chance to bring the Australian dance family together to celebrate and to share the wonderful companies of our nation with lucky Melbourne audiences."
Heralded by Artshub for "the confidence his choreography offers the dancers", Tim Harbour will create a new work that utilises multiple generations
of artists, from up-and-coming dancers of The Australian Ballet School to favourite dancers of the past. Performed with accompaniment by a live band, Sweedeedee is a whimsical look at Australian families, through humour, tragedy and events that define family identities.
Joining Harbour for Let's Dance are:
Australian Dance Theatre (SA) will present an excerpt from Garry Stewart's Be Your Self; an exploration of the human body as the starting point for defining the concept of self.
Swathed in Sass & Bide costumes, seven dancers from Dancenorth (QLD) will premiere a new work by Raewyn Hill. Set to the soaring score of Ravel's Bolero, Fugue is inspired by Spanish bullfighting.
Expressions Dance Company (QLD) will premiere a brand-new work by 2011 Australian Dance Award winning choreographer Natalie Weir. DON'T is an exploration of the emotional power of words.
Queensland Ballet (QLD) will present two highlights from Artistic Director François Klaus' Cloudland. Two lyrical pas de deux, Almost Like Being in Love and No Moon at All bring a fresh interpretation to new love.
Sydney Dance Company (NSW) will charm audiences with Rafael Bonachela's 2 One Another; a celebration of relationships and human interaction.
Tasdance (TAS) will showcase their originality with a short film presentation of Momentary. Anna Smith's work explores the wisdom of age, using the qualities of eucalyptus bark as an analogy.
West Australian Ballet (WA) will present Ombra Leggera. Meaning 'shadow song', this comedic work features two male dancers in a play on shadows and duos.
Photo credit: Georges Antoni