A celebration of British choreography embraces Australia’s dance heritage.

For the past five years, The Australian Ballet has devoted several illuminating programs to investigating its own history and the beginnings of professional ballet in Australia. Audiences went wild for the Ballets Russes when they visited our shores during the 1930s and ‘40s, but our colonial roots run even deeper and the Brits have had a similarly profound impact on Australia’s dance companies.

These ties are the subject of British Liaisons,a triple bill bringing together strongly contrasting productions across three generations – Checkmate, Concertoand After the Rain –under the auspices of the Union Jack.

The story begins after the Second World War, explains Nicolette Fraillon, music director and chief conductor of The Australian Ballet. “In the 1940s and 1950s, classical ballet took a great leap forward in this country. After the war the British government, concerned that we would become too Americanised, invested a lot of money into bringing British culture to Australia. One of the groups they brought out was London’s Rambert Dance Company, which introduced the Australian public to British ballet on a scale we hadn’t seen before.

“The next strong cultural wave to hit, and the...

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now or log in to continue reading.