The Australian Ballet

Adam Bull on Dancing Swan Lake

Principal Artist Adam Bull, in his own words, "grew up with Swan Lake". He danced numerous roles, including that of the Prince, in Graeme Murphy's famed version of the ballet. When The Australian Ballet commissioned a new traditional version in 2012, Choreographer Stephen Baynes chose Bull to create the role of Siegfried. How did he perceive the role?

TAB SWAN LAKE photo Jeff Busby 3034 600x800px

Bull praises the depth of Baynes' characterisation. This is no "cardboard cut-out prince, but a man with a story; with real weight and expectations ... What Stephen wanted to do was to give the character more depth and clarity. The Prince is a man who has been brought up in the royal court with commitments and responsibilities. He's been deeply affected by his father's death. And I think he's looking for something, and not quite sure what that is. So if you play with all that in your head, you get a real sense of what he’s feeling – and then the steps take over.”

TAB SWAN LAKE photo Jeff Busby 2991 60x800px

Bull premiered the ballet with long-time partner and fellow Principal Artist Amber Scott. They have danced the principal roles in a string of the major dramatic ballets: Giselle, Manon, Onegin. “When you’re dancing with someone and you look into their eyes and there’s complete trust and openness, that’s really special. And it’s only getting stronger as we get older.”

Melb 2012 277 600x800px

Bull calls Scott "a tremendous artist", and praises her transitions from the tragic Odette to the flirtatious, evil Odile.

“She’s vulnerable, wispy as the feather of a swan, and then she comes out in Act III with those tempting eyes that make you go, ‘Whoah, who is this girl?’” he says. “[The Prince] is tempted … or tricked … or trick-slash-tempted, which we all are sometimes. But his true love is his true love..."

Swan Lake 1pm Dress Rehearsal Sydney Opera House credit Daniel Boud 167 600x800px

Stephen Baynes cast Bull and Scott as the doomed couple as much for their characteristics as a duo as individuals. “I always thought of [the ballet] in terms of partnerships. I thought they would be sympathetic: physically, emotionally and technically.” But Bulll's inherently princely bearing – “a sensitivity in his countenance”, as Baynes puts it – was certainly a factor.

This post is adapted from an article by Kate Scott in our souvenir program article for Swan Lake.