What is a muse?

13 April 2011 | By Behind Ballet

Brett Simon and Dana Stephensen. Photo Paul Empson
Brett Simon and Dana Stephensen. Photo Paul Empson
Brett Simon. Photo Paul Empson
Brett Simon. Photo Paul Empson
Dana Stephensen. Photo Paul Empson
Dana Stephensen. Photo Paul Empson

Bodytorque.Muses is The Australian Ballet’s latest showcase of bold new work. This year, Bodytorque veterans Daniel Gaudiello, Kevin Jackson and Alice Topp return with new ballets, joined by Coryphée (and first-time choreographer) Vivienne Wong, and guest choreographer Lisa Wilson.

The theme of this year’s season is ‘Muses’, so we thought we’d ask the choreographers what the word ‘muse’ means to them.

Daniel Gaudiello has been inspired to make a classical pas de deux in the style of Petipa, focusing on the tragic story of Tristan and Isolde. For him, a muse is “a never-ending stream of energy and when you dip your paint brush in, it will always come out a new colour … ”

Kevin Jackson’s Encomium is a tribute to his mother, and focuses on the journey of the young boy away from his mother, her sadness, and her joy when he returns to her as a man. Kevin sees a muse as “someone who inspires me to create, grow and love”.

Alice Topp was inspired by a photographic exhibition that showed the passage of time between images. Scope is a meditation on our attachment to objects, places and our own mortal bodies. Alice speak of a muse as “a source from which your creative vision is born. The muse is what inspires, motivates and influences the content of the work, colouring it with purpose and expression.”

Vivienne Wong’s Touch Transfer had its origins in Vivienne’s love of drawing. She began to contemplate the way marks on a page come together and compared it to the shapes made by dancers. How does she see her muse? “A muse is a spark that resonates in our hearts and minds. Something that gives us the power to create”.

Lisa Wilson found the seeds for her work Contour when she was sorting through some belongings of her father’s and came across his PhD on children’s perception of mapping. From there, she began to consider our internal journeys and pathways. The work, like a map, will represent these ideas. Lisa sees a muse as “a source of inspiration, a starting point, a thing that inspires deeper reflection and creative absorption”.

You can see Bodytorque.Muses at Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay, 26-29th of May. Book tickets here.