Ivan Cavallari is the artistic director of the Ballet du Rhin in Alsace, France in 2013 and the former artistic director of the Western Australian Ballet Company 2007-2012.
A Dancer on the Rise
Cavallari was born in 1964 in Bolzano, Italy. He received his initial training at the Teatro alla Scala Ballet School in Milan. His Ballet teachers noticed his talent and awarded him a scholarship to the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow. He was with the Boshoi Ballet School from 1981 until 1983. Cavallari danced with the Teatro alla Scala Ballet from 1984-1985. In 1986 he joined the Stuttgart Ballet. He became a soloist in 1991, advancing to a principal dancer in 1994 under the successive directions of Marcia Haydée and Reid Anderson.
The Dance Goes On
Cavallari's repertoire included leading roles in choreographies by Balanchine, Ashton, Fokine, Béjart, Tetley, Kylián, Forsythe, van Manen, Scholz, Mac Milan, Neumeier, Thoss, Spuck and Lee. He worked with international artists such as Massimiliano Guerra, Alessandra Ferri, Alina Cojocaru, Tamara Rojo, Johan Kobborg et Adam Cooper. He danced all the leading roles of John Cranko's ballets and staged regularly the latter's works with companies such as the Royal Ballet Covent Garden in London, the Teatro alla Scala Ballet, the Czech National Ballet, Prague, the Hungarian National Ballet in Budapest, the Opera di Roma, the Swedish Royal Ballet, the National Ballet of China, the Universal Ballet in Corea and the West Australian Ballet.
Cavallari also staged numerous works by Uwe Scholz. He choreographed ballets for the Stuttgart Ballet, the State Opera Ballet, Hanover, the Lodz State Opera Ballet in Poland, the Mannheim Ballet, the ballet company of the State Opera in Vienna and the State Gallery of Stuttgart which asked him to create a piece for the opening of an exhibition of paintings by Franz Marc. In 2002 he created 'The Last Emperor and I' with the Liaoning Ballet in Schenyang, China and received several rewards.
In 2008, his choreography of 'The Nutcraker' for the West Australian Ballet received critical acclaim. Cavallari was the artistic director of the West Australian Ballet, the oldest company of Australia created in 1952 by Kira Abrissokova (Bousloff) from 2007 till 2012. In 2013 he left Perth for personal reasons and will take up the position as artistic director of the Ballet du Rhin in Alsace, France.
Cavallari and the Western Australian Ballet
Karen van Ultzen in her article tiled "Ivan the Wonderful" on the "Dance" website discusses Cavallari's achievement while artistic director of the WA Ballet.
Though he was born in Italy, Cavallari forged most of his career with the Stuttgart Ballet, from where he came directly to join the WAB in 2007. It is his first experience as an artistic director, and his achievements have been considerable.
First and foremost has been the company’s ambitious and interesting programming. Cavallari has presided over an excitingly rich repertoire that has raised the company’s national standing and made it a very desirable place for dancers to be.
He engaged the work of some of Europe’s hottest choreographers, such as Paul Lightfoot, Petr Zuska, Youri Vamos and Uwe Scholz. He also staged John Cranko’s Taming of the Shrew (which was repeated due to public demand). And he engaged the distinguished former Cranko ballerina, Marcia Haydee, to stage her own full-length production of The Sleeping Beauty.
While making full use of his international contacts, Cavallari did not ignore the artists on his doorstep. Locals with European links – such as Margaret Illman (a former Stuttgart ballerina), Kim McCarthy (an alumnus of the Hamburg Ballet and Nacho Duato’s Compania de Danza) and Terence Kohler (resident choreographer at the Bavarian State Ballet). Nor was young blood overlooked.
Cavallari cultivated fledgling choreographers such as Tim O’Donnell, Cass Mortimer, Reed Luplau and company dancer Jayne Smeulders, giving them main-stage opportunities. And he sought out and paid due respect to local venerables, such as former ballerina Lucette Aldous (commissioning from her a new Don Quixote), and Barry Moreland (former artistic director of the company), whose L’apres midi d’un Faune will be included in the forthcoming Diamonds season.
Altogether Cavallari’s record is of a well balanced mix of traditional and new, international and local, safe and risky, that is especially impressive given the company’s size and location.
In fact, the WAB’s size is another achievement. Cavallari was certainly not the first director to campaign for more dancers at the WAB, but he has been persistent or lucky enough to actually get that for what he asked. When he began his tenure the number was 19 – it is now 36 (32 of them professional). He is aiming for 40, a number he believes is the absolute minimum for a proper classical ballet company. He also increased the number of mainstage seasons per year from three to four.
- Ivan the Wonderful by Karen van Ultzen (7September 2012) see http://www.danceaustralia.com.au/news/ivan-the-wonderful