Spotlight on Melbourne City Ballet
By Leah Maclean
Melbourne City Ballet (MCB) is one of the largest touring companies in Australia, an achievement which can be attributed to the principle in which the company was founded. Artistic Director Michael Pappalardo explains the company’s vision as “to provide everyone in the community with access to quality classical ballet”. Community classes, workshops, intensives, affordable tickets and delivering diverse works are fundamental in this vision.
With a cast of 19, many of whom hail from or have a background in New Zealand; including Michael (New Zealand School of Dance, Royal New Zealand Ballet) and Principal Artist Brendan Bradshaw (Royal New Zealand Ballet), the company has seen a rise in the numbers of Kiwis who enter their training programmes and company positions. “Both countries have a lot to offer to the arts sector, though it does seem there are only a few options available for classical artists in New Zealand. We saw a similar gap within Australia when we decided to build Melbourne City Ballet,” says Michael. “We generally find that New Zealand’s artists have a much more diverse level of training which makes them much more equipped to deal with our repertoire. Both countries are producing lovely dancers, many of whom often never end up with jobs, despite their beauty, due to a lack of opportunities being available.”
An MCB candidate is someone with “long lines, long limbs and versatility in their movements, someone who is dynamic in the work that they are delivering,” explains Michael, in light of their impending audition round for September. “Our dancers could be doing Romeo & Juliet one day and then rolling on the floor in the newest contemporary work the next. All of our company artists need to be able to work like this.” Versatile, dynamic, meticulous and innovative are words which best describe the company in terms of their dancers, their choreography and the stories which drive the choreography.
Brendan Bradshaw is one such mind behind the MCB’s unique and diverse repertoire. Brendan has taken on the role of Romeo in the company’s latest season of Romeo & Juliet alongside NZSD Graduate, Tynan Wood, as Paris. At the close of the Romeo & Juliet production, Brendan will be launching into his reimagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, set for the stage in October. Inspired by his part in Michael Pink’s 2005 version for the RNZB, Brendan pitched the idea of a re-creation to Michael, who jumped at the idea.As his first full length ballet, Brendan admits “secretly it would mean the world to have my first full length ballet performed in New Zealand, since that’s where I started my choreographic journey”. Michael hints at the chance and similar desire for an MCB tour to New Zealand. “I feel that New Zealand audiences would embrace the company’s style and repertoire. We are very keen to make a tour happen shortly and plan to continue to visit New Zealand on a regular basis.”
Founded in 2013 MCB is still a young company with a lot of potential. Potential that is honed in their eclectic repertoire of choreography, dancers and neo-classical framework. “As a company that is new and growing, to see the standard increase with every new season, great things are happening here,” says Brendan. “I hope things can only get better for Melbourne City Ballet looking into the future.”