1. List: Suite en blanc (Australian Context)
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    Suite en blanc is internationally acclaimed as a neoclassical showpiece, a one-act ballet designed to display the technical virtuosity of a company. Choreographed by Serge Lifar for the Paris Opera Ballet, it premiered in Zurich in 1943 with Yvette Chauvire and Lifar himself dancing principal roles. Lifar largely extracted the music for Suite en blanc from Edouard Lalo's score for Namouna, a short-lived ballet choreographed by Petipa in 1882. Many of the names for musical episodes were carried over from the original score, resulting in such titles as 'Variation de la Cigarette' which, while referring to the plot of Namouna, appear irrelevant to the 'pure dance' of Suite en blanc.

    The 1943 production used pure white costumes against a stark, monumental, black setting. A 1946 revival for the Nouveau Ballet de Monte Carlo was entitled Noir et Blanc, reflecting the costuming of the males in black tights. Lifar staged a second version of the work, also entitled Noir et Blanc, in 1963. This was the version first seen in Australia, danced by the Grand Ballet Classique de France in 1965, with Maina Gielgud performing the 'Cigarette' solo. Two years later an ensemble from the Paris Opera company performed the original Suite en blanc in Australia, with Yvette Chauvire dancing in her 1943 premiere role.

    Attribution of the first performance of the work by an Australian company is complicated by the controversy surrounding Robert Pomie's piece for the Borovansky Ballet in 1958 which, although entitled Serenade classique, was reportedly a non-credited version of Suite en blanc. The first endorsed staging by an Australian company came when Lifar, renowned in Australia from his performances with the Original Ballet Russe in 1939/40, returned in 1981 to personally stage Suite en blanc for the Australian Ballet. This production opened at the Sydney Opera House on 18 March 1981. Suite en blanc was also performed in the 1988 season, featuring in the Bicentennial Gala and the Bicentennial international tour. It has remained in the repertoire of the Australian Ballet.

    The following description, from 'Ballet and Dance' by Clement Crisp and Peter Brinson, highlights significant style features of the piece: 'It bears all the hallmarks of the Lifarian style: dancers working in parallel formation; feet placed in Lifar's own applied sixth and seventh positions; arabesque delie; sharply held bodies; brilliant use of beaten steps.' Stanton Welch, commenting in a press release for the Houston Ballet in May 2003, describes it as 'based on French technique, with typical Lifaresque off-balance virtuosity, all done with humor behind it. It's an extremely difficult ballet that shows off the entire company; only the best companies attempt it. Dancers need to do this ballet to prove their worth as dancers.'

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    created by: NLAdance on 2010-01-01 00:00:00.0
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  1. Dale Baker, Terese Power and Paul de Masson in Suite en blanc / Don McMurdo
    McMurdo, Don, 1930-2001
    [ Photograph : 1967-1998 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Dale Baker, Terese Power and Paul de Masson in Suite en blanc / Don McMurdo
  2. Fiona Tonkin and dancers in Suite en blanc, the Australian Ballet, 1981 / Walter Stringer
    Stringer, Walter, 1907-2001
    [ Photograph : 1981 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Fiona Tonkin and dancers in Suite en blanc, the Australian Ballet, 1981 / Walter Stringer
  3. Portrait of dancers in Suite en blanc, the Australian Ballet, 1981 / Walter Stringer
    Stringer, Walter, 1907-2001
    [ Photograph : 1981 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Portrait of dancers in Suite en blanc, the Australian Ballet, 1981 / Walter Stringer
  4. Australian Ballet. (1962-2018)
  5. Borovansky Ballet. (1939-1961)
  6. Gielgud, Maina (1945-)
    Artistic Director; Dancer; Director; Choreographer; Producer; Regisseur; Dance Director; Devisor
  7. Pomie, Robert (1933-1991)
  8. Welch, Stanton (1969-)