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TWO CHOREOGRAPHERS
STEPHEN BAYNES and TIM HARBOUR

On the evening of Tuesday 10 August 2010 in the Ballet Centre, Society Members were introduced to choreographers Stephen Baynes and Tim Harbour by the President, Josie Woodgate, OAM. She noted that choreography is a tough and unforgiving art, and we are blessed to have Stephen and Tim producing works which excite dancers and audiences alike. They represent a large part of the future of dance in Australia and have come to this stage of their ballet careers in a very similar manner. They both trained at The Australian Ballet School, both danced with The Australian Ballet for many years and both started choreographing before they stopped dancing in the Company. The President then led the questioning of our guests.

Members were keen to hear about the forthcoming season of 'Edge of Night' (August 2010) and both men spoke of the creative process required to bring works to the stage.

Stephen Baynes photo by James BraundThe forthcoming programme takes its name from Stephen's At the Edge of Night (1997) to the music of Rachmaninov. It also features his Molto Vivace (2003), to the music of Handel. Both are audience favourites. He referred to the original casting of the first work which included Lisa Bolte, Robert Curran and David McAllister and the challenge of selecting a new cast from the present Company. His pleasure at the choice available was evident as was his pride in the quality of dancers in Australia. When asked whether he made any changes to his original choreography he said that there were a few minor changes he introduced and which he felt added to the flow of the work. When speaking about Molto Vivace he talked about the way the ballet developed its touches of humour which he planned but which grew because of the sense of humour of the dancers involved. Adam Bull is a good example of that great feel for humour.

Photographer James Braund, courtesy of The Australian Ballet.

tharbour-jbraundTim’s new work Halcyon has been an exciting project for him as his first major work with a major company. The idea for the work came to him several years ago so it has been germinating within him for some time and when given the opportunity he grabbed it with both hands. He had never worked with a composer before and found composer, Gerard Brophy, although inexperienced with ballet, a soul-mate when it came to music. The work is based on a Greek myth but can relate to present times when people try to be what they are not by treating celebrities as idols and trying to copy their lifestyles. The design for the work is by ‘Bluebottle’ which enriches the work with its lighting which aims to fill the huge space above the dancers on a large stage.

Stephen and Tim both spoke of the challenges presented by working with a large company which has several ballets being rehearsed at the same time. They are allocated a limited number of weeks and studios and must fit in with the other rehearsals taking place. They also spoke of their different ways of creating and teaching their works to the dancers and Tim spoke of what he had gained from watching and learning from Stephen when he, Tim, was a dancer in the company.

The President thanked both men for speaking to Members and commented that our Company is blessed to have Stephen and Tim producing works which excite dancers and audiences alike. Guests and audience then enjoyed a lovely supper together with lots more discussions taking place.

Career Notes

Stephen Baynes has been resident choreographer with The Australian Ballet since 1995. During that time he has created many beautiful and fascinating works for The Australian Ballet, the Dancers Company, The Sydney Dance Company, The Queensland Ballet, The West Australian Ballet, La Scala Ballet in Milan, Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, New York City Ballet and The Royal Ballet, London. His works include: Strauss Songs (1986); Ballade (1988); Catalyst (1990), which was performed nationally and in London 1992 when it was nominated for the Lawrence Olivier Award for Choreography, and also in the USA tour of 1994; Andante; Episodes; Beyond Bach (1995), which opened in Melbourne to a standing ovation; Into the Darkness; and in 1998 first full length work 1914; Shadow in the Facet; At the Edge of Night (1999), which was televised on ABC; Imaginary Mosque; Unspoken Dialogues, which was awarded the Helpmann Award for Choreography; Molto Vivace (2003); Raymonda (2006); Constant Variants (2007); and Interplay Programme (2008). Stephen’s work has brought great pleasure to audiences wherever his works are danced. His method and manner in bringing his creations to life, endear him to dancers wherever his commissions take him.

Tim Harbour is one of the new generation of exciting choreographers. He has risen quickly since he retired from The Australian Ballet in 2007 producing a succession of works for the bodytorque series - Sunken Waltz; Eve; Face the Music; Fielder; Wa; Schattenwelt, for The Queensland Ballet; Ignis for the Australian Ballet School’s contribution to 'Morning Melodies'; Live 08, for circus group 'Cirque Vie'; Songs of Light (2009); and more for The Dancers Company. Christopher Wheeldon saw him by chance and recruited him to create a ballet for the New York based company 'Morphoses' in late 2009. Tim’s new work - halcyon is based on a Greek myth and set to a specially commissioned score from Gerard Brophy.

J.W.

 
 

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