Demand for classical ballet in Indonesia is growing. Indonesia is no stranger to highly formal dance – Javanese dance, a century’s old form that has many similarities to classical ballet, including dramatic narratives, and complex, demanding and sometimes brutal footwork.
West Australian Ballet has been invited to perform in Indonesia and will tour from 2 – 7 August. Partnering with Ballet Indonesia foundation and the Australian Government, this tour provides international exposure for the company and offers Indonesia an insight into an aspect of cultural life in Australia.
Western Australia is an important neighbour for Indonesia. West Australian Ballet has been to Indonesia twice before – once more than 20 years ago, and last year, dancers Juliet Burnett and Christopher Hill travelled to Indonesia to perform in a gala performance that paved the way for the 2016 tour. Burnett, formally Australian Ballet principal, has Indonesian heritage, and it was partly her interest in creating opportunities for dance in Indonesia which drove the tour proposal.
The West Australian Ballet will be performing a gala program of divertissements from On the Nature of Daylight, The Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast, La Pluie and Cinderella. The repertoire will introduce Indonesian audiences to a cross section of classical works – those from the canon, and those that have been newly created, representing a spectrum of West Australian Ballet’s work.
The performances are complemented with a suite of master classes led by West Australian Ballet artists for local dance teachers, students and technical operators. An important part of these master classes is the creation of a new work with an ensemble of young local dancers trained in classical ballet. This will be created by choreographer Deborah Robertson with assistance from Burnett.
Auditions for this youth ensemble have already taken place in Jakarta. Many of the dancers in the youth ensemble will also be trained in the Javanese style of dance. The influences of Javanese style may offer interesting aspects to the creative process. It is hoped that the masterclasses will create relationships that extend beyond the stage and facilitate cultural sharing extending far beyond tourism.
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Matthew Lehmann and Sandy Delasalle in WAB’s ‘La Pluie’. Photo by Sergey Pevnev.