5 reasons you need to see Spartacus

Posted on 28 September 2017 By Rose Mulready

Lucas Jervies’ brand-new version of Spartacus weaves a gritty account of a slave rebellion with a moving love story. Here are five reasons you won’t want to miss out on the centrepiece of our 2018 season.


If you think pointe shoes and tutus when you think ballet, you’re not alone. The choreographer George Balanchine famously declared, “Ballet is woman.” Fortunately, that’s far from the truth. Ballet men bring strength, propulsive power, sensuality and star quality to the art form. Spartacus, with its male-centred narrative and all-male ensemble scenes, brings the boys into the spotlight.

Steven Heathcote. Photography Earl Carter


Of course, that’s not to say that women don’t play a part in the ballet. Spartacus is built around the tenderness between the rebellious leader and his wife Flavia, also an enslaved captive of the Roman empire. Their passion provides Spartacus’ emotional core – and its spectacular pas de deux.

Robyn Hendricks and Jarryd Madden dancing Lucas Jervies' Spartacus pas de deux at Ballet Under the Stars. Photography Kate Longley


Lucas was a dancer with The Australian Ballet, and is now a choreographer and a NIDA-trained director; he was the dramaturge on David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty. To create his own version of Spartacus is a long-held dream. He’s been reading contemporary accounts of the historical Spartacus and immersing himself in Khatchurian’s score as he works with Sydney Dance Theatre director Imara Savage to create a compelling account of the gladiator-slave’s heroic journey.

Lucas Jervies in rehearsals for Spartacus. Photography Kate Longley


This award-winning French designer created the fanciful sets and costumes for Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella in 2013. He and Jervies will be working together to create a new sense of realism for the slaves’ costumes – and we can’t wait to see what Kaplan’s imagination will make of the decadent festivities of imperial Rome.


Principal Artist Kevin Jackson, who will create the lead role of Spartacus, has already begun to build his ‘Spartacus body’. When work on the production begins, Nigel Poulton, an award-winning fight director, weapon specialist, stunt performer and actor who has worked on The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and The Bourne Legacy, will be taking our dancers through their combat moves.

Steven Heathcote. Photography Earl Carter