Culture Buff

Culture Buff

4 October 2014

9:00 AM

4 October 2014

9:00 AM

He was born into Australian ballet aristocracy but now lives in Houston. Stanton Welch is the son of Marilyn Jones and Garth Welch, two of this country’s greatest and most admired dancers. Artistic Director of Houston Ballet since 2003 he has returned to Australia to reproduce his 2010 version of La Bayadere for his old company The Australian Ballet. Already seen in Melbourne, it will open Nov 6 at the Sydney Opera House.

Bayadere can seem an over-reverential exercise in 19th century exoticism however Welch has made subtle but significant modifications to this story of doomed Indian lovers, strengthening the male elements and simplifying the plot to create a splendid showcase. Now it may be a bit Bollywood, indeed quite a lot Bollywood but all the better for that. After all, Bayadere was inspired by the sub-continent and Bollywood is the modern creation of Indian popular culture; terrific fun, all-singing, all-dancing crime stories. Created in Russia in 1877 by Pepita to music by Minkus it was only slowly taken up by the West but, like India itself, its time has come. Welch and the AB have timed it perfectly.

For balletic exoticism of another kind you could go for Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, if you haven’t already seen it on an earlier tour or on ABC.
(It’s at Melb Regent from 16 Oct; Syd Royal from 28 Oct). An all-male Swan Lake shouldn’t work but it does. They are both intensely theatrical experiences but Bayadere has lots of pretty girls.

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