Painting La Bayadère

02 July 2014 | By Behind Ballet

Stanton Welch’s grandiose production of La Bayadère has sets and costumes by Peter Farmer, a master designer of story ballets (audiences of The Australian Ballet would know his work from our productions of Giselle, Manon, and Madame Butterfly). Out at our Production Centre in Altona, the whizzes of Scenic Studios are reproducing the sets of La Bayadère on a smaller scale so they will fit into the more compact stage of the Sydney Opera House.


Photography Lynette Wills

The Australian Ballet has worked with Scenic Studios for decades – since they were part of the J.C. Williamson theatrical empire. Paul Kathner AO, perhaps Australia’s most experienced scenic painter, has been overseeing the painting of the La Bayadère cloths. If you saw The Display in 2012, you’ve seen Paul’s work: he recreated the Sydney Nolan backcloth for the production. He’s helping the younger painters understand how to achieve Peter Farmer’s style.


Photography Lynette Wills

Although the painters are using stencils for part of the process, these sections will then be worked on by hand to get the painterly look characteristic of Farmer designs.


Photography Lynette Wills


Photography Lynette Wills

The sets for La Bayadère echo the epic scale of the story, moving from splendid palaces and temples to soaring jungles. The backcloth shown in these pictures is from the palace garden, where the temple dancer Nikiya is fatally bitten by a snake planted by her rival, Gamzatti.


Photography Lynette Wills


Photography Lynette Wills


Photography Lynette Wills


Photography Lynette Wills

See La Bayadère in its full majesty – coming to Melbourne and Sydney soon! Book tickets