With Sylvia, our Resident Choreographer Stanton Welch put women not only in the limelight, but in the driver's seat. His revival of this rarely performed ballet unearths the gem of Léo Delibes' entrancing score and enlivens the storyline and choreography with a triumvirate of sassy female characters. Here are five reasons why you'll want to meet Sylvia.
26 Sep 2018
Females Front and Centre
Ballet is full of heroines, but in traditional works they're often tragic figures with messy fates. Sylvia has three strong main characters: the fierce hunter goddess Artemis; Sylvia, an adventurous nymph; and the mischievous, curious Psyche. The story follows their loves, sorrows and triumphs to a rapturous conclusion.
Our resident choreographer is also artistic director of Houston Ballet, and in his long career as a dancemaker has honed a style that combines high-energy balletic movement, thrilling pas de deux and rich storytelling - perfect for updating the classics. Our audiences have adored several of Stanton's pieces in recent years, including Madame Butterfly, La Bayadère and Romeo and Juliet.
Artists of The Australian Ballet in Stanton Welch's La Bayadere. Photography Jeff Busby.
When Tchaikovsky saw Sylvia in 1877, he was enchanted by Delibes' score. "What charm and elegance, what riches in the melody, the rhythm, the harmony," he raved. "I was ashamed. If I had known this music before, I would not have written Swan Lake.” (The ballet world can count itself fortunate!) Frederick Ashton claimed that he made his version of Sylvia, the most successful of the modern age, after Delibes came to him in a dream and begged him, with a kiss, to save his ballet from oblivion. Choreographers George Balanchine and John Neumeier have also been, as it were, kissed by Delibes, unable to resist the lure of this lilting score with its stirring hunting horns.
In 2018, our male dancers got the chance to combine dance with combat in the brutal gladiatorial scenes of Spartacus. In 2019, our female dancers will be learning sword fighting and archery to portray Sylvia and the other nymphs in Artemis' band of armoured hunters.
A Whole Lotta Love
Three headstrong women, three profound relationships that transcend the line between mortal and immortal. It all adds up to a blaze of chemistry - and a plethora of opportunities for Welch to unleash the power of his pas de deux.