The Australian Ballet

The Lady is a Vamp

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Principal Artists Callum Linnane and Jill Ogai, Carmen (Inger) 2024
Photo Brodie James

She’s a mysterious, enigmatic figure. Charismatic, seductive and a little bit spicy, we take a look at some of our favourite femme fatales in ballet.

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Principal Artist Jill Ogai, Carmen (Inger) 2023
Photo Daniel Boud

Carmen

Starting strong with the iconic anti-heroine, Prosper Mérimée introduced us to the Spanish firecracker in his 1845 novel and is believed to be based on a real person as told to Mérimée by the Countess of Mojito. Since then, Carmen has returned to the stage and screen in opera, film, television and ballet, her tragic love affair with Don Jose cemented in infamy.

The Australian Ballet first performed Roland Petit’s Carmen in 1973 with Lucette Aldous in the title role and most recently staged Johan Inger’s contemporary retelling in the 2024 season.

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Lucinda Dunn, Manon (MacMillian) 2014
Photo Lynette Wills

Manon

Manon Lescaut embodies the full spectrum of femininity. Sold to the highest bidder by her brother, she is both an innocent victim of her brother’s greed and scheming temptress wanting to escape a life of poverty. In love with the charming Des Grieux, Manon is seduced into a life of lavish luxury by Monsieur G.M who promises her material possessions to abandon her love. In making this choice Manon will make the ultimate sacrifice, losing both her love and her life.

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Nathan Brook and Amy Harris, Anna Karenina (Possokhov) 2022
Photo Daniel Boud

Anna Karenina

A Russian epic by Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina features time jumps, fever dreams and the tantalising seductress Anna. Married to the senior government official Karenin, the beguiling Anna begins a scandalous affair with Count Vronsky bringing about her own demise. Some scholars believe Anna’s emotional decline is a symbol of rebellion against the social order and a refusal to be controlled.

The Australian Ballet last performed Anna Karenina in the 2022 season.

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Steven Heathcote and Lisa Bolte, La Sylphide (Bruhn) 1996
Photo Jim McFarlane

La Sylphide

A beautiful Sylphide enters the room of a young groom on the morning of his wedding. Tempting him away, he chases the Sylphide, abandoning his bride for this new infatuation. As his obsession with the Sylphide grows, she remains out of his reach, a seductive vision of unattainable perfection that ultimately leads to tragedy.

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Principal Artist Benedict Bemet, Swan Lake (Woolliams) 2023
Photo Daniel Boud

Odile

We can’t go past the notorious black swan. Perhaps one of the most famous ballets in history, the Odette/Odile dynamic of good versus evil in Swan Lake remains a popular fixture of the cultural zeitgeist. Where the White Swan, Odette, is pure symbol of innocence and incorruptibility, the Black Swan, Odile, is a dark force, seducing the prince and bringing about his downfall.

There have been many incarnations of Swan Lake, most recently The Australian Ballet performed Anne Woolliams’ version directed by Artistic Director, David Hallberg in 2023.


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Kirsty Martin and Matthew Donnelly with artists of The Australian Ballet, The Merry Widow (Hynd) 2011
Photo Jeff Busby

The Merry Widow

The newly widowed and extremely wealthy Hanna Glawari attends a ball at the French embassy where she is the guest of honour. Glamorous, sophisticated and beautiful, Hanna is admired by many suitors, but the ambassador plans to marry her to the handsome Danilo in order to keep her wealth in their almost bankrupt country. However, it is revealed that Danilo and Hanna were once young lovers and Danilo’s aristocratic family forbade him from marrying the then peasant girl Hanna. Now with her wealth, the tables have indeed turned, and Hannah holds the power, but is ultimately reunited with her childhood sweetheart.