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Catch Spartacus quick on Ballet TV before The Merry Widow takes over
Photograph: SuppliedCatch Spartacus quick on Ballet TV before The Merry Widow takes over

Australian Ballet puts Spartacus, The Merry Widow and Bodytorque online

From doomed rebellion to brand-new works via a scandalous farce, it's a streamable feast

Written by
Stephen A Russell

The Australian Ballet’s impressive digital program At Home with Ballet TV continues apace. Aspiring dancers (and the significantly less coordinated) can practise pirouetting in front of the pooch while mainlining the Australian Ballet's considerably more en pointe performances.

Currently streaming, rising star dancer-turned-choreographer Lucas Jervies’ startling take on slave rebellion classic Spartacus is a stunner. All the more so because of Aram Khachaturian’s soaring score and the jaw-dropping sets and racy costumes by Jérôme Kaplan. With nary a tutu in sight, it’s all leather, steel and glistening flesh as Kevin Jackson ripples as the Thracian warrior with a cause. A sumptuous production filmed at Arts Centre Melbourne, with accompaniment by Orchestra Victoria, the show really highlights the strengths of the boys in the troupe, with Robyn Hendricks also shining as Spartacus’ wife, Flavia. You can stream it free here, and check what it takes to stage a saga of this scale in the video below.

And just in case one popular uprising wasn’t enough, check out the bonus addition of László Seregi’s 1990 production starring Steven Heathcote and Lisa Pavane here. But get in quick, before the Romans spoil the party, bringing the dazzling drama to a close on Thursday, August 6.

Fear not, however. Once the swords and sandals epic bleeds its last breath into the sand, Ballet TV has some spritely comedy to soothe your wounded soul. The considerably jollier French romantic farce The Merry Widow takes up the baton, streaming free from August 6-20. Performed at the Sydney Opera House in 2018, as choreographed by Ronald Hynd, it stars Amy Harris and Adam Bull, plus some seriously swish Belle Époque stylings by set and costume designer Desmond Heeley.

The Merry Widow is coming soon to Ballet TV
The Merry Widow is coming soon to Ballet TVPhotograph: Supplied

And the Aus Ballet is really spoiling us with digital content this month, dropping ‘Capriccio’, the first of five instalments of Bodytorque. Digital. Proudly supported by the Robert Salzer Foundation, the series was originally conceived as a showcase of new works in development by company dancers who aspire to be choreographers. Moving the series online in lockdown, Aus Ballet tweaked the brief, asking five of their finest to respond to the new normal with movements designed to shine online.

'Capriccio' was shot in the great hall and glazed staircases of the National Gallery of Victoria. The piece, choreographed by François-Eloi Lavignac, stars principal dancer Benedicte Bemet and is a stripped back but no less impressive work that spirals like a mythic labyrinth. You can check it out here, with more gold to spin out of the series in the coming weeks, from creators Mason Lovegrove, Jill Ogai, Tim Coleman and Amelia Drummond.

Want bonus brilliant ballet? Spice it up with London's BalletBoyz

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