Vienna Festival Ballet
The Vienna Festival Ballet was founded in 1980 by the Austrian dancer Peter Mallek. One of its many aims is to provide young and talented dancers with the opportunity to perform the great classical ballets around the world. Thus giving audiences the chance to enjoy the company’s enchanting classical repertoire danced by a young and talented company. The average age of the dancers is 20 years old therefore giving vitality, energy and freshness to the classical ballets.
All ballet companies require an artistic driving force and the Vienna Festival Ballet is no exception. Peter Mallek, founder and Artistic Director of the company trained as a dancer in his native city of Vienna by the famous Russian teacher Harry Pluciss. At the age of fourteen he joined the corps de ballet of the Vienna State Opera. Within three years he was dancing all the leading parts and some principal roles. Since this time he has danced with all the major companies of the world, including American Ballet Theater, Australian Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, London Festival Ballet and Scottish Ballet. Peter has danced alternate roles , on major tours with Rudolf Nureyev, Peter Breuar, Cyril Atanasoff, and Valdemar Volk.
The success of the Vienna Festival Ballet is a tribute to Peter’s sheer energy. The company has attracted many famous choreographers and dancers to work with them in bringing the wealth of classical ballet to an even wider audience. With sound direction, talented dancers and a popular repertoire, the success of the company seems assured.
The VFB gave its first performance in Brighton, England in May 1980. This was followed by an extended European tour the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium. Since that time the company has not looked back, but gone from strength to strength. The popularity of the VFB has been endorsed by the fact that they are invited back to venues again and again.
The company’s repertoire has grown steadily over the years, each of the ballets are full length, and choreographed after the original, exclusively for the VFB.
The repertoire includes: Swan Lake, restaged by Terence Etheridge after Petipa, The Nutcracker choreographed by Rubin Escewara, Sleeping Beauty choreographed by Belinda Wright and Jelko Yuresha, and now renewed by Sheila Styles, formerly of Sadlers Wells and the Royal Ballet. Giselle was choreographed for the company by the world famous Nicholas Beriosoff, Cinderella, by Sheila Styles, Coppelia by Serena Cundari from Australian Ballet and renewed again by Sheila Styles.
More recently the company has restaged La Sylphide, with enormous success, by Sheila Styles and performed this great Romantic ballet alongside Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue restaged by Ian Mackenzie Stewart after Janet Lewis. The contrast of the two ballets complimented each other and enthralled the audiences.
Costumes and stage sets provide an essential ingredient to the enjoyment of ballet. Designs for a company with a busy touring schedule have to be imaginative and very portable, retaining images which project colour and vitality to enhance the craft of the dancer, the choreographer and the composer. The company’s wardrobe and technical staff have worked hard to produce glamorous costumes and beautiful sets, under the careful guidance of designers such as Alan Sievewright, Ella Hune and Elizabeth Gale.