I has been more than 15 years since The Australian Ballet last performed its popular production of Spartacuschoreographed by László Seregi. That 2002 season, which featured Steven Heathcote as one of the dancers playing the gladiator-rebel Spartacus, also happened to be Lucas Jervies’ final ballet as a performer with the company.

“Steven actually died on my back. I was also lucky enough to have Robert Curran die on my back. I was 21 and shaking in my slave boots. I was more of an extra or supernumerary. I was never a great dancer,” said Jervies candidly at a lunch for the Friends of The Australian Ballet late last year.

Spartacus, The Australian Ballet Kevin Jackson performs the title role in The Australian Ballet’s Spartacus. Photo © Justin Ridler

But Jervies recalls being inspired as he watched Heathcote, Curran and the other male dancers being given the chance to showcase their strength, muscularity and agility. “Hearing the Khachaturian music, watching them dance and it being so epic, I remember saying to myself, ‘I’m going to make this one day. I’d love to tackle it,’” he says.

“I think...

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