“See the music, hear the dance,” a quote attributed to George Balanchine, perfectly encapsulates “Ballet Imperial,” Balanchine’s one-act love letter to the choreography of Marius Petipa and the compositions of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and the splendour of imperial Russia as he saw it. The work employs Petipa’s courtly overtone with its hierarchical framework of dancers and melds it to Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 2 in G major, op. 44. The result is a work that whilst recalling the Winter Palace with all its grandeur, typifies his belief that “dance is music made visible.” And having now seen this work performed twice in the one season by the Australian Ballet, it is no longer possible to hear Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 2 without recalling principal dancer Lana Jones on the stage.
Artists of the Australian Ballet in “Ballet Imperial” choreography by George Balanchine. Photograph courtesy the Australian Ballet