The Australian Ballet has unveiled the first production in its five-part Bodytorque.Digital series, showcasing new dance works created by developing choreographers and emerging composers.
Created on and performed by dancers of The Australian Ballet, with music performed by players from Orchestra Victoria, this year’s Bodytorque series has been specifically designed for the digital space.
Bodytorque.Digital is a COVID-19 retake on the regular Bodytorque program, which The Australian Ballet has been offering to develop new Australian choreographic talent since 2004. The works created through the program would normally be performed live in theatres. During the COVID-19 enforced isolation period, the company conceived Bodytorque.Digital to continue its commitment to foster the creativity of The Australian Ballet’s dancers and to develop choreographic talent.
Five up-and-coming choreographers were given the opportunity to develop new works in which all elements – choreography, dancers, music and cinematography – are utilised to create something more than simply dance on film. This has been achieved while working together remotely with the assistance of digital connectivity and virtual rehearsals.
The first work by dancer and choreographer François-Eloi Lavignac, in collaboration with The Australian Ballet’s pianist Kylie Foster, is titled Capriccio and was created with Principal Artist Benedicte Bemet while both dancers were working from home during weeks of isolation. The artists rehearsed via Microsoft Teams during the development of the piece.
Lavignac and Bemet have been workshopping the content for this work since 2017, when Bemet endured a career-threatening injury. It has now come full circle to be completed for the 2020 BodyTorque.Digital season.
Capriccio is captured in a powerful film with cinematography and production provided by Brett Ludeman from The Australian Ballet’s Recording and Broadcast team. It was filmed in the empty halls and exhibition spaces of the National Gallery of Victoria as a collaboration with Orchestra Victoria. Capriccio aims to show a cycle in which the dancer’s reality and thought process are intertwined in a dance where they run from themselves only to find themselves at the beginning.
“We both enjoyed re-visiting this content, giving it new meaning and also creating new content to represent us, three years later,” says Lavignac. “The beauty of the movement comes from a genuine place of wondering, picturing and constantly researching.”
Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet David McAllister says, “Bodytorque, The Australian Ballet’s choreographic development program, has been an incubator for new works and a place of experiment and research for a generation of creators. In recent years, it has also become a wonderful point of collaboration with Orchestra Victoria.”
The full Bodytorque.Digital series will feature the work of five developing choreographers – François-Eloi Lavignac, Amelia Drummond, Jill Ogai, Tim Coleman and Mason Lovegrove – and will be released over the coming months. Three of the pieces will be filmed at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Artistic Director of Orchestra Victoria Nicolette Fraillon says, “Three of the choreographers leapt at the opportunity to work with emerging Australian composers and develop their new works in collaboration. Confined to their respective homes, choreographers, dancers and musicians have worked together online, sharing and developing ideas, giving feedback to one another. They have developed short works which embody the spirit of creative togetherness and collaboration, which is the essence of the artform, and which continues despite the current challenges of physical limitations and restrictions.”
Fraillon adds, “Over the past few years of Bodytorque, members of Orchestra Victoria and pianists of The Australian Ballet have been integral to the creative process and will be performing and recording the music for each of the works. Should we be able to perform a Bodytorque live season in the future, the new compositions have been written with a view to expansion for live performance.”
The Bodytorque.Digital series will be released on The Australian Ballet’s Ballet TV in the coming months. For more, visit australianballet.com.au/the-ballets/bodytorque-digital.