The Australian Ballet has reminded me once again of their Jerome Robbins Celebration, a quadruple bill that's coming up in May (Sydney) and June (Melbourne).
So a disinterested plug. Why should you go to this ballet? Let me count the reasons…
1. The Concert
This is one of the sweetest, funniest, most entertaining ballets I’ve ever seen. The pianist on stage performs a recital of Chopin. The dancers are the audience – behaving in all the ways that audiences do, including sitting in the wrong seats – and they dance out their fantasies in the most delightful ways. Did I mention I adore this ballet?
2. Afternoon of a Faun
Not Nijinsky’s original choreography or narrative concept (no infamous autoeroticism or pencilled toes on tights) – but still amazing, still sensual.
3. The Cage
Two years ago the SSO played Stravinsky's Concerto in D for strings (1947) in the Mozart series. In his introduction the concertmaster, Dene Olding, told us about the ballet that Jerome Robbins created on this music in 1951. The narrative was perhaps a tad more detailed than was necessary for a concert performance of a "concert piece", which he admitted at the time, but it was fascinating nonetheless. Robbins's harrowing libretto is inspired by the way some female insects and arachnids kill the male after mating, and by what he recognised as the "terribly driven and compelled" character of the music. I'd say the music is performed more often than the ballet, so this is a great chance to see it.
4. A Suite of Dances
This one I don't know, but like The Concert it also brings the music on stage: a solo cellist playing Bach. So musically you can’t lose: Bach, Stravinsky, Debussy and Chopin.
A footnote: the Australian Ballet's media publicity is touting Robbins in large type as the "Academy Award winning choreographer of West Side Story". I do sincerely hope that they don't get a bunch of disgruntled emails from patrons complaining about the absence of Bernstein's street gangs.