‘Filigree And Shadow’ to challenge traditional perceptions of ballet

It’s called Filigree and Shadow and it’s a contemporary kaleidoscope of dramatic music, lighting and dance that bares the choreographer’s emotions on stage.


The Australian Ballet’s Tim Harbour said the inspiration for his 25-minute spectacular came from his own emotions.

The Australian Ballet will unveil its newest show, ‘Filigree and Shadow,’ at a global premier in Melbourne tomorrow.

“It really began with a sense of frustration, actually, for me,” he said.

“So I decided to begin my process from that point, you know, building myself up to a level of aggression and bravery and then trying to find the movement, vocabulary that comes from that feeling.”

The result is a graceful, complex and edgy piece.

“There are as much as three different things going on at once,” Mr Harbour said. “[It’s] highly organised. Semi chaotic, but highly organised.”

“It really began with a sense of frustration, actually, for me.”

“Watching it now for me, it really reflects that emotional idea of aggression and a catharsis for that aggression, a release for it.”

As part of a triple-bill contemporary performance, “Filigree and Shadow” is making its global premiere at Melbourne’s Arts Centre.

And for Tim, it’s an opportunity to showcase the unique technique of Australian dancers.

“There truly is an openness about the way these dancers deliver dance, and a real connection to emotion. They have a very easy dialogue between emotion and how to translate that into movement.”

Australian Ballet dancer Chris Rodgers-Wilson said the contemporary work gave some of the company’s dancers the opportunity to branch outside their classical roots.

“It’s really high energy, high attack, very physical,” he said. “It’s a really fantastic challenge for us as dancers.”

“A lot of classical ballets have a traditional sort of hierarchical structure, where you have your ‘prince’ and ‘princess’ principal roles. But in the contemporary programs, often we have choreographers come in who also help out with casting and they might see someone, without knowing what rank you are, they might see you in your day-to-day routine and just like your dance quality and so that’s fantastic.

“There truly is an openness about the way these dancers deliver dance, and a real connection to emotion.”

“You’ll see a lot of young dancers in the cast across the three ballets and it’s always a fantastic opportunity.”

Some cutting-edge creators have contributed to the work; the original score is by Munich-based team 48Nord, known for its experimental electro-acoustic music.

And the dramatically monolithic set design is from Australian architect Kelvin Ho, whose work isn’t normally found on stage.

“A lot of my space is really designed around people and their movements – how they move in a space – and there’s a lot of parallels in how I design a space and how a choreographer works,” he said.

And it took just one quote from the choreographer to get him into the mind frame.

“Tim came to me with this quote, he said ‘birds in a thunderstorm’, and I was like, that’s totally it, I can totally imagine it.

“It’s about a space, having these dancers move through this volume and being in tension and harmony with the space.”

Performances premiere in Melbourne tomorrow and run until September 5, before travelling to Sydney.