Back In The Spotlight

Mon 24, 2022
  • Ballet
Written by Cassandra Houghton
Back In The Spotlight

Seasoned ballet stars return to the stage for an Encore performance

Some of Australia’s best talent will return to the spotlight taking the stage at the Talbot Theatre for an Encore performance this November.

Honouring the life span of mature dancers, Encore highlights the contribution of remarkably talented retired ex-professional artists by providing them with a renewed opportunity to shine on stage.

Starring Paul Boyd, Rachael Walsh, Justine Summers, Camilo Ramos, Wendy McPhee and Riannon McLean, these artists will return to the stage in two brand-new works choreographed by Rani Luther and Richard Causer for this truly remarkable season.

Encore Curator and Choreographer Rani Luther said she is thrilled to be creating a platform that honours incredibly talented and seasoned artists, who have devoted their lives and careers to the art of dance.

“The rich value of experience, mature artistry, and immense knowledge these dancers have amassed over life in the dance world, exudes from every part of their mind, body, and souls. I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to shine a well-deserved and needed light on these dance greats,” she said.

Inspired by the internationally renowned dance company Netherlands Dance Theatre III (NDT III), Encore will highlight the power and value that experienced artists have in our community.

“I had the privilege of watching NDT III and the effect this company of mature artists had around the world was spellbinding and awe-inspiring. Our audiences can expect the same – a unique and moving experience watching seasoned performers take to the stage in the craft they know best,” she said.

Although it is a scary prospect in returning to the studio and stage after quite some time, former Principal Artist of The Australian Ballet Justine Summers said it is wonderful to be able to express herself in this capacity.

“The rehearsal process has been a lot of fun, as well as confronting. I initially declined, saying my body was too creaky but Rani was very persuasive and here I am!” Ms Summers said.

“It’s lovely being back in the studio with creative people, some whom I have had a connection with in the past, working towards bringing Rani’s ideas to life. To be a part of something on stage again, offering our hearts and souls, feeling the music course through our veins once more, will be a joy,” she said.

Ms Summers retired from The Australian Ballet in 2000 and has returned to the stage twice in the last 22 years. She has often caught herself pondering over the plight of a dancer’s relatively short career.  

“When your body is young and invincible, you feel like you can do anything, pushing the boundaries further and to new heights, however, you don’t have as many life experiences to draw on to bring to some roles. Then after many years of performing and living life, you learn so much about your stagecraft and your physicality, but your body starts misbehaving and can’t quite do what it used to do. It is a sad point in dancers’ careers. Retirement happens and the dancer’s wealth of experience retires along with it,” she said.

Ms Luther hopes Encore will encourage more seasoned artists to explore their creative passions once again.   

“Australia is bustling with exceptionally talented artists of all ages and stages, so I wish to help illuminate the value seasoned performers can make to society while bringing beauty, meaning and joy to all involved,” Ms Luther said.

Encore will also feature filmed interviews with industry legends Li Cunxin AO, David McAllister, Roslyn Dunn, Daniel Gaudiello, Lana Jones, and Maggi Sietsma.

Encore is the second work from the ‘Thomas Dixon Centre Presents’ series which aims to give platforms to artists of all genres, community groups, and audiences alike, sharing creative talents far and wide.

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