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Les Sylphides partnered with new dance work

Friday, 11 June 2021

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Rise, WAAPA’s mid-year dance season performed by the 2nd year Dance students, is a perfect program of classical and contemporary dance performed in the Geoff Gibbs Theatre from 14-17 June at 7.30pm, with a matinee on Thursday, 17 June at 2.00pm.

Former Australian Ballet principal artist Leanne Stojmenov is collaborating with WAAPA Classical Dance Coordinator Kim McCarthy to restage a popular staple of the classical ballet repertoire, Les Sylphides. This exquisite ballet will be performed to live accompaniment by WAAPA’s repetiteur, pianist Gennaro Di Donna.

The Rise program also features a new contemporary work, Memento mori, choreographed by WAAPA dance alumnus Kynan Hughes.

Les Sylphides, set to the evocative music of Frédéric Chopin, is credited as being the first abstract or plotless ballet. Described as a ‘romantic reverie’, this one-act ballet consists of several sylphs (elemental spirits of the air) dancing with a young man, a ‘poet’, in the moonlight. With no real storyline, the ballet is simply suggestive of a romantic mood.

The performance history of this work is studded with legendary dance names. Originally known as Chopiniana, the ballet was reworked in 1909 by the groundbreaking Russian choreographer Mikhail Fokin and renamed Les Sylphides for Sergei Diaghilev’s famous Ballets Russes. It was performed in Paris with Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova as one of the sylphs and the great Vaslav Nijinsky dancing the role of the poet. Since then, it has been a regular feature on classical dance programs.

WAAPA welcomes Perth-born Leanne Stojmenov as a guest artist to restage this iconic work with Kim McCarthy.

Stojmenov joined the Australian Ballet in 2001 and was promoted to principal artist in 2011. Her career highlights include dancing the title role of Cinderella on opening night of The Australian Ballet’s 2016 London tour; sharing the stage with her husband Marc Cassidy in the principal roles of Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote in 2007; and dancing Odette/Odile in Stephen Baynes' Swan Lake alongside Kevin Jackson in 2016.

Before joining WAAPA, McCarthy enjoyed an international career as soloist with the Hamburg Ballet under the direction of John Neumeier, and principal dancer with the Compañía Nacional de Danza under famed Spanish modern ballet dancer and choreographer, Nacho Duato.

WAAPA graduate Kynan Hughes has performed and toured around Australia and internationally with companies and choreographers including Leigh Warren and Dancers, Dance North, Sydney Dance Company, Buzz Dance Theatre, Natalie Weir, Rafael Bonachela, Emanuel Gat and Kenneth Kvarnstrom.

His new work, Memento mori, explores the nature of inevitability, impermanence and chance: “Once we come to know what we and the world around us are really like, we will be utterly transformed”.

From a much-loved example of classical dance to an exciting new contemporary work, Rise promises something for all lovers of dance.

For all venue and performance details, please visit the Rise performance web page.

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