From Madame Butterfly (1995) to Sylvia (2018), Stanton Welch's choreographic feats resound as hallmarks in The Australian Ballet's repertoire. Join us as we look at some of his unforgettable works for the company.
10 Jul 2019
Gods and Goddesses
La Bayadère gave us the spectacular appearances of Agni, the Fire God, and Garuda, messenger of the immortals. In Sylvia, the ante is upped by a whole pantheon of deities, including some of the big names - Zeus, Aphrodite Apollo and Artemis.
As the title of his ballet Velocity implies, Welch has a feel for fast footwork and complex steps, even in his ensemble dances. In Sylvia, with its army of fleet-footed nymph warriors, he throws movement into top gear.
In 1994, Welch's Divergence made waves with its industrial-inspired designs by Vanessa Leyonhjelm. In 2019, Sylvia will amaze audiences with Jérôme Kaplan's modern twist on classical Grecian costume.
Welch is particularly known for his inventive pas de deux. Senior Artist Nicola Curry, who is currently learning Sylvia, says, "There are intricate ways of getting into the lifts, and the men are getting a good workout, lifting all the women! Within one particular lift, there will be two or three different grip and positioning changes while we're above their heads. So it's been a wonderful challenge."
With its three intertwining love lines, Sylvia offers a bounty of pas de deux, which include some surprise reversals of traditional roles.
Just like the stormy, scheming Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the three main characters in Sylvia know just what they want and don't hesitate to go after it ... although there are some twists and turns along the way!
A Feel for Tradition
Welch makes thoroughly modern ballets, but is sensitive to the crucial elements in the works he's reviving (like the Kingdom of Shades scene in La Bayadère). Sylvia is completely reimagined with all-new movement, but the classical flavour of the choreography remains intact.
Drama on a Large Scale
Welch thinks big. He likes to tackle heavyweight story ballets (Romeo and Juliet, Marie, Madame Butterfly, Swan Lake), enhanced by soaring design. The spectacular Sylvia, with its gods and mountains, cast of thousands and three emotional journeys, is a fitting addition to his oeuvre.