The Australian Ballet

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The Artist and the Muse

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Valerie Tereshchenko with Artists of The Australian Ballet, Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland© 2017
Photo Daniel Boud

Ballet's most inspired real-life couples.

Of all the archetypes that have been presented throughout the ages, nothing captures the collective imagination like the artist and their muse. What could be more romantic than a love story that inspires the world’s favourite music, ballet and artwork. Below are some of the couples that took romance to the next level, creating some of the worlds most beloved art.

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Rodion Shchedrin and Maya Plisetskaya
Photo © 2024 by International Maya Plisetskaya and Rodion Shchedrin Foundation

Rodion Shchedrin and Maya Plisetskaya

If there is a poster child for true love, then composer Rodion Shchedrin and dancer Maya Plisetskaya must be it. The pair married in 1958 until Maya’s death in 2015. Shchedrin created his most famous composition, the Carmen Suite, for his wife, prima ballerina assoluta of the Bolshoi Ballet. Maya had asked Rodion to compose the music to request so that she could fulfil her dream of playing Carmen in Alberto Alonso’s ballet.

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Toni Lander and Harald Lander during a rehearsal of Études, 1955
Photo Ron Burton/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Harald Lander, Margot Lander, Toni Lander and Lise Lander

Harald Lander created over 30 ballets’ during his career, so it’s somewhat justified that he had three muses (wives) that also happened to be ballet dancers. Lise Lander, who was married to Harald until his death, still works as an artistic adviser on his most famous work, Études and taught the choreography alongside Harald's former wife Toni until her death in 1985.

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Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas, c1893.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas

Oscar Wilde’s muse and ultimate downfall was the handsome poet Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas. The two became lovers in 1891, when the 21-year-old Bosie was still a student at Oxford. The pair had a tempestuous on-and-off-again relationship and Bosie was known to be reckless with both Wilde’s affection and money. It was Bosie’s father who suspected the relationship between the two and his accusations led to the 1895 trials of Wilde and imprisonment. In 2024, The Australian Ballet will dig deeper into the real life and fictitious characters of Oscar Wildes life with Christopher Wheeldon’s Oscar©.

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Stephanie Lake and Robin Fox
Photo Pedro Greig

Stephanie Lake and Robin Fox

Stephanie Lake and Robin Fox met in line at the Malthouse Theatre café in Melbourne. Later when Fox heard Lake counting out beats for the dancers during rehearsals, he offered to make her simple click track and ended up composing the score for her 2013 piece, Dual. Since then, Fox’s scores have become synonymous with Lake’s choreography. Fox's score will accompany Lake's newest creation for The Australian Ballet, Circle Electric.

To learn about other ballet romances

Love Language