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The Australian Ballet is partnering with American company Joffrey Ballet to adapt Tolstoy’s classic novel Anna Karenina for the stage. The production will premiere in Chicago in October 2018, though Australians will have to wait until 2020, when the ballet will be staged as part of the AB’s season for that year.
The production is a joint initiative of AB Artistic Director David McAllister and Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater. “Ashley and I performed together on the Australian stage as dancers in the 80s and I have followed his wonderful career as a dancer and now Artistic Director of Joffrey Ballet. Since becoming the Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet we have kept in touch and talked about how we could work together once more. This is the perfect project and I think it will be really exciting to work with Ashley again and stage this exciting co-production for our Australian audiences,” said McAllister.
Russian choreographer Yuri Possokhov has been commissioned to choreograph the ballet, based on Tolstoy’s tragic tale about doomed, forbidden love set in Imperial Russia. “It has been a dream of mine to commission a new work by Possokhov and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with such a visionary artist,” said McAllister.
A former principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, Possokhov is now Resident Choreographer at San Francisco Ballet. Critically acclaimed for his visceral, expressive style, he recently won the prestigious 2016 Prix Benois de la Danse for his full-length ballet A Hero of Our Time at Moscow’s Bolshoi. As reported in Limelight, he made headlines recently when his ballet Nureyev about the famous Russian dancer, set to premiere at the Bolshoi in July, was indefinitely postponed. No official reason was given for the sudden cancellation, though there were rumours that Nureyev’s sexuality may have been considered problematic. The Joffrey Ballet, which is based in Chicago, Illinois, has previously performed several of Possokhov’s ballets including RAkU, Don Quixote and The Miraculous Mandarin.
Award-winning Russian composer Ilya Demutsky has been commissioned to create a new score for Anna Karenina. The creative team also includes Emmy Award-winning designer Tom Pye and lighting designer David Finn.
The production partnership with Joffrey Ballet for Anna Karenina continues The Australian Ballet’s recent history of artistic collaborations with leading international ballet companies. These include Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which originated at The Royal Ballet in London and which the AB is presenting this year in collaboration with The National Ballet of Japan, a new Stanton Welch production of Silvia in collaboration with Houston Ballet for The Australian Ballet’s 2019 season, and a joint commission with American Ballet Theatre of a new production of Harlequinade by Alexei Ratmansky to be performed by The Australian Ballet in its 2020 season.