The return of the Australian Ballet to the Sydney Opera House in 2021 was always going to be a momentous occasion, not only due to the fact that it would be the first time in over a year that Sydney audiences could see the national company on stage, but also because it was the first program presented in Sydney with David Hallbergat the helm. It was, so to speak, his calling card – a clear indication of who he was, and what we could expect from him as the successor to David McAllister, whose record-breaking 20-year run as Artistic Director came to anend last year.

It would be hard to imagine a better way of achieving this than with the triple bill, New York Dialects, which opened last night. It is fitting that Hallberg’s arrival should be paralleled by the seminal Serenade, which was the first original work created by George Balanchine after his arrival in America. Hallberg has paired it with the world premiere of his first commission as Artistic Director – Watermarkby the celebrated choreographer Pam Tanowitz. In programming two of Balanchine’s neoclassical masterpieces alongside this new work, Hallberg has also boldly recast...