The Australian Ballet ~ The Dream, Marguerite + Armand

Natasha Ciesielski
12th Nov 2023

The Australian Ballet presents a double bill of one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century Sir Frederick Ashton’s timeless classics, The Dream and Marguerite and Armand.

Based on a true story, Marguerite and Armand tells the story of the tumultuous, doomed love affair between the courtesan Marguerite Gautier and her young lover Armand, recalled by Marguerite in a series of flashbacks as she lies on her deathbed.

The roles of Marguerite and Armand were originally created for ballet legends Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in 1963. Their performance was electrifying and few dancers were brave enough to follow in their footsteps until Sylvie Guillem in 2000. French dancer Guillem did not reenact the moves of the ballet stars, she chose her own interpretation to the choreographer's work, focusing on the original story and developed moments she felt connected to the character, Marguerite. It was this guidance that she shared with Amy Harris and the Australian Ballet company of dancers, in her role as guest coach when Artistic Director David Hallberg flew her to Australia this year.

Sadly, after 22 years, Marguerite will be Amy Harris’ last performance with the Australian Ballet. The departure of the Principle ballerina will be a real loss to the company. She’s captivating as Marguerite, controlled in her movements and shifts easily from energetic uptempo dancing to almost allowing her body to fall to weakness, bending into her lover (Armand performed with passion by Callum Linnane) and giving in to him on her deathbed.

Sets designed by the wonderful Sir Cecil Beaton evoke the 19th-century Parisian setting and each of the dresses worn by Marguerite are just stunning.

With the dramatic score by Hungarian composer Frank Liszt’s building in intensity; Marguerite and Armand is a powerful ballet.

Finishing the show The Dream is a whimsical playful ballet - a comedic one-act interpretation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In The Dream Ashton choreographs a story of love and magic, bringing quarreling fairies, a mischievous sprite and mere mortals together for an energetic lively performance.

The drama of the first performance is forgotten as the dancers playfully tumble and roll over one another. There’s even a fight slap scene by the women with quick movements reminiscent of slapstick comedy popular during the silent film era. It’s a delight to watch the fairy corps move in unison, perfectly timed. Stand out performer is Brett Chynoweth (as Puck) prancing in one of the few male roles danced en pointe.

With costume and set designs by David Walker, the stage is turned into a beautiful enchanted forest. Again the costumes stand out, from the fantastical green fairies to the bright pink of the mortal woman.

The Dream / Marguerite and Armand will show at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until 25 November.

To purchase tickets visit 》