When the Australian Ballet’s Spartacus toured America in 1990, it nearly brought New York to a standstill. Crowds in Times Square stopped to gawp at the giant poster of leather-clad dancer Steven Heathcote as the rebellious gladiator, while at ground level promoters were kept busy replacing posters stolen by overeager fans overnight. The tour was a triumph.
Fast forward to 2018 and principal dancer Kevin Jackson is taking on the role in a new version of Spartacus created by former company dancer and NIDA-trained director Lucas Jervies. And the leather harness is nowhere to be seen.
Composed in 1954 by the Russian-Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, the story is based on the historical figure of Spartacus, an enslaved gladiator who led a rebellion against the tyrannical Roman commander Crassus in the first century BC. Traditionally, it’s been a vehicle for a company’s male dancers to step out from behind the ballerinas and take a well-earned place on centre stage.
Read our interview with Kevin Jackson about taking on the role.