5 REASONS TO SEE COUNTERPOINTE

Posted on 19 April 2021 By Rose Mulready

Through two works and one pas de deux, our Sydney-exclusive program shows us how flexible classical technique can be. Here are five of the reasons why you won’t want to miss the satisfying extremes of Counterpointe.

ALL THAT BALLET CAN DO

The three works in Counterpointe span almost a century. While their basic language is the same - pointe shoes, classical steps, mostly classical music - they are deployed to vastly different effect. Petipa's Raymonda (from which we'll perform the pure-dance third act) is from 1898, and is regal, elegant and precise. Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, from 1960, is a tribute to this era with added speed and zest. Forsythe's Artifact Suite, from 1984, takes classical lines and bends and extends them, pushing balances way off the vertical poise of traditional ballet and introducing surprise elements of staging. 

Amy Harris and Jarryd Madden rehearsing Artifact Suite. Photography Lynette Wills

SOMETHING NEW

Artifact Suite - never before performed by The Australian Ballet - is only the third work by the world-renowned Forsythe in the company's repetoire. Most recently, we performed his In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated as part of our Vitesse program in 2016. The third act of Raymonda hasn't been seen on our stages since the 1980s, and unless you caught Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux as part of our Summertime at the Ballet season earlier this year, you wouldn't have seen it since our 50th Anniversary Gala in 2012. It's as fresh for our dancers as it is for you. 

Brett Chynoweth. Photography Pierre Toussaint

EXQUISITE TUTUS

The set pieces and intricate patterns of Raymonda are enhanced by glorious tutus designed by Hugh Colman: a sea of various golds and creams. 

Amber Scott. Photography Pierre Toussaint

INFINITE COMPLEXITY

Thirty-five dancers braiding together complex movement to a Bach Chaconne (and, later, to music by contemporary composer Eva Crossman-Hecht). It holds echoes of stately court dances, but there's no mistaking the modernity and intellectual depth of Forsythe's many-layered movements. 

Watch our dancers rehearse Artifact Suite

Artists of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. Photography Alice Blangero

FIREWORKS

Violette Verdy, who was the first to dance the female role of the pas de deux, describes its moods: “The adagio is tenderness, romance … then the solos get perky, provoking … and the coda is ‘throw it all out and go for it’ … the crescendo is amazing, and that’s why the whole world wants to dance it.” That's also why the whole world wants to watch it. The way the work builds is nothing short of thrilling, and the coda with its soaring lifts and plunging fish dives will leave you tingling. 

Robyn Hendricks and Callum Linnane. Photography Jeff Busby