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Kunstkamer — The Australian Ballet

Catch this jagged and boundary-pushing two-part contemporary ballet before it heads to Melbourne.
By Ben Hansen
May 02, 2022
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By Ben Hansen
May 02, 2022
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Rarely seen and utterly breathtaking, the ambitious contemporary ballet Kunstkamer has arrived in Sydney for a two-week run of performances by The Australian Ballet. Created by pioneering Dutch dance company Nederlands Dan Theater (NDT), this ballet had never been performed by another theatre company until the Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House on Friday, April 29.

The work of NDT House Choreographers Sol León and Paul Lightfoot, and Associate Choreographers Marco Goecke and Crystal Pite, Kunstkamer is a jagged and boundary-pushing two-part ballet that draws its inspiration from the 1734 book The Cabinet of Natural Curiosities by Dutch pharmacist, zoologist and collector Albertus Seba.

The Australian Ballet Artistic Director David Hallberg calls this ballet "truly an immersive experience" and has even come out of retirement to perform as part of the run of shows.

"Sol León, who's one of the four choreographers, asked me to come on board in this role," Hallberg said. "It took a little enticing because obviously I have said goodbye to the stage and I wasn't looking for opportunities to return to the stage, but I found that in this role, in this experience, in this opportunity with the dancers, in this work, it was the right time."

Two dancers will perform Hallberg's part for the remainder of the Sydney shows, before he returns to the stage once more for the Melbourne premiere next month.

Hallberg is not the only special guest dancer to be taking part in The Australian Ballet's Kunstkamer. The ensemble has also been joined by NDT member Jorge Nozal, who is reprising his role from the 2019 world premiere season in the Netherlands for the full run of shows down under.

"Jorge is the first guest artist of my directorship, and I am really excited that it will be someone unexpected for the audience and enriching for the company," proclaimed Hallberg. "Jorge is admired by our dancers and artistic team and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce him to our audience, alongside the dancers of The Australian Ballet, in the role that was created for him by Sol León."

You can catch the performance at the Sydney Opera House until Saturday, May 14 before it moves onto the Arts Centre Melbourne for a run of shows between Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 11.

Prudence Upton

Top image: Daniel Boud

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