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28 April, 2020


As The Australian Ballet’s digital season unfolds we are digging deep into the glorious depths of The Australian Ballet Collection to bring you design highlights from these acclaimed productions.

Arts Centre Melbourne’s Australian Performing Arts Collection captures many of Australia’s significant theatrical productions through design. Costume design is a particular strength of The Australian Ballet Collection which was established with the company’s first major donation in 1998. Since then, The Australian Ballet Collection has grown to reflect almost six decades of the company’s history. Looking through the lens of over 400 costume designs we can re-visit pivotal works in The Australian Ballet’s repertoire.


The Sleeping Beauty

Considered a masterpiece of 19th century dance, The Sleeping Beauty with its traditional fairytale setting has inspired many incarnations throughout the company’s history, offering a creative challenge of majestic proportions.



Act Drop, State Theatre Curtain

Costume design by Gabriela Tylesova for the Fairy of Grace, The Sleeping Beauty, The Australian Ballet, 2015; Gift of The Australian Ballet, 2015; Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne



In 2015, The Australian Ballet’s artistic director David McAllister presented his own production of The Sleeping Beauty. Working with leading Australian designer Gabriela Tylesova they created the biggest production ever staged by the company. Tylesova designed the lavish sets as well as over 250 costumes.



Act Drop, State Theatre Curtain

Costume design by Gabriela Tylesova for Carabosse, The Sleeping Beauty, The Australian Ballet, 2015; Gift of The Australian Ballet, 2015; Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne



Tylesova’s costume designs took many months to realise. Her attention to characterisation required a head- to-toe approach for many costumes and in some cases Tylesova designed every aspect, including the wig and make-up. There were over 80 wigs created for this production and many were made entirely by hand.


Cinderella

The Australian Ballet first presented Cinderella in 1972. This production was choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton with designs by Kristian Fredrikson. Stanton Welch choreographed another version of Cinderella for the company in 1997. This production was also designed by Fredrikson.



Act Drop, State Theatre Curtain

Costume design by Jérôme Kaplan for the Prince, Cinderella, The Australian Ballet, 2013; Gift of The Australian Ballet, 2015; Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne



The Australian Ballet’s 2013 production of Cinderella offered an opportunity for the company to work with two acclaimed international artists: Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky and French designer Jérôme Kaplan. Kaplan responded to the score by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev when designing the set for this production. The imposing marble-like columns and surfaces in the Prince’s Palace were created using printed fabric. While the fabric printing required two weeks, this design would have taken a year to complete if painted by hand.



Act Drop, State Theatre Curtain

Costume design by Jérôme Kaplan for the title role in Cinderella, The Australian Ballet, 2013; Gift of The Australian Ballet, 2015; Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne



Kaplan used layers of chiffon and silk organza to create Cinderella's ball gown. The full skirt for this costume was inspired by Christian Dior's "New Look" from the 1950s.



Act Drop, State Theatre Curtain

Costume design by Jérôme Kaplan for the Step Mother, Cinderella, The Australian Ballet, 2013; Gift of The Australian Ballet, 2015; Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne



Kaplan created a strong colour palette of pink, purple and green for the Step Mother and the Step Sisters. Inspired by Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli’s creative collaboration, his exaggerated silhouette's play a significant role within the storytelling, adding humour to these notoriously nasty characters.


Romeo and Juliet

Graeme Murphy’s history with The Australian Ballet spans 50 years and began in 1968 when he was invited to join the company fresh from The Australian Ballet School. Murphy has choreographed many ground-breaking works for the company including his own versions of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. For Romeo and Juliet he teamed up with fashion designer Akira Isogawa to re-invent another classic work.



Act Drop, State Theatre Curtain

Costume design by Akira Isogawa for Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, The Australian Ballet, 2011; Gift of The Australian Ballet, 2012; Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne



This was Isogawa’s first commission for The Australian Ballet but having collaborated with Murphy on a number of works for Sydney Dance Company, he was familiar with what Murphy describes as ‘the horrors of dance costume which have to be as durable as possible, have to be washed nightly and have to be unrestrictive for the dancers’.



Act Drop, State Theatre Curtain

Costume design by Akira Isogawa for Romeo, Romeo and Juliet, The Australian Ballet, 2011; Gift of The Australian Ballet, 2012; Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne



Isogawa spent eighteen months designing hundreds of costumes for Romeo and Juliet. He incorporated textured elements into the costumes and was often inspired by watching Murphy’s choreography when choosing fabrics for particular roles.



Act Drop, State Theatre Curtain

Costume design by Akira Isogawa for Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, The Australian Ballet, 2011; Gift of The Australian Ballet, 2012; Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne



Margot Anderson
Curator, Dance and Opera
Australian Performing Arts Collection

 

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