Respected dance critic Deborah Jones summed it up best when describing choreographer Alexei Ratmansky last month in The Australian: "There is no more interesting, influential or thoughtful choreographer working in classical ballet."
The Russian-born, New York-based choreographic heavyweight will be in our Melbourne studios from July to create Cinderella, his first full-length work for the company.
This stunning production will have its world premiere at Arts Centre Melbourne from 17 September for 14 performances, before travelling to the Sydney Opera House on 29 November.
This is the second time Ratmansky has worked with The Australian Ballet. In 2009, he created Scuola di ballo as part of the Concord triple bill.
But this time around he’ll be unleashing his considerable narrative talents on a sublime story ballet, taking audiences on a journey to 20th-century Russia and into an abandoned theatre, where this unconventional fairy-tale is set.
The Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister, said to expect the unexpected.
"Alexei has wonderfully reimagined iconic works such as The Nutcracker, Don Quixote and The Firebird, and I have no doubt that this production will be equally spectacular," said McAllister.
"His abilities span all genres of classical ballet and I know he’ll put his unique stamp
on this much loved fairy-tale. He’s a master of characterisation and our dancers can’t wait to work with him again on bringing these roles to life."
A former dancer, Ratmansky took the reins of the famed Bolshoi Ballet at just 36 years of age. During this time he nurtured the careers of rising stars Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, now regarded as one of ballet’s most thrilling partnerships.
He was the Bolshoi’s artistic director for five years before heading across the Atlantic to join American Ballet Theatre as Artist-in-Residence in 2009.
He has won numerous accolades for his choreography, including a UK Critics Circle National Dance Award for The Bright Stream; a Benois de la Danse prize for his production of Anna Karenina for the Royal Danish Ballet; and a Golden Mask Award for Best Choreographer for his production of Jeu de Cartes for the Bolshoi Ballet.
Ratmansky will be teaming up with award-winning costume designer Jérôme Kaplan to realise his creative vision. The duo have previously worked together on costumes for Het National Ballet’s Don Quixote and the world premiere of Lost Illusions at the Bolshoi; the latter won Kaplan a Golden Mask Award for Best Costume Design.
A team of 25 costumiers are currently working on bringing over 40 of Kaplan’s designs to life. In total, there will be approximately 275 costumes to dress all the different casts.
Close to 1,000 metres of material has been sourced to make the various costumes, including 20 metres of net for the skirts of each ball gown alone.
Ranging from the most delicate of chiffons and silks to lush furs - fake of course! - the costumes have a colour palette inspired by the green and purple hydrangea flower.
The fabric for Cinderella’s famous ball gown has been flown in from a Paris couture house and will be a highlight of the designs, while a specialist hat maker in New Zealand will be custom making a series of bowler hats for the Fairy Godmother in a gender-bender twist!
Undulating plastic will form the base of the spherical balloon skirts for the two Stepsisters, and half-a-dozen wigs are being created by our specialist wig maker, with human hair imported from Europe.
Over 100 specialists across set design, lighting, painting and projections have lent their considerable talents to this lavish production.
At our new Production Centre in Altona, cloth backdrops measuring an incredible 42 metres wide, and eight-metre-high sets, are being painted to create the ballet’s marvellous world.
Fantasy, intrigue and a little bit of magic … let Cinderella cast a spell on you this spring.
What the critics had to sayabout Ratmansky:
"21st-century ballet is receiving a most welcome injection of originality, sophistication and invention"
Join Voxy on Google+.