Wild Swans: Behind the scenes - Documentary Poster

Wild Swans: Behind the Scenes

26 min documentary, produced, directed and filmed by Philippe Charluet for ABC-TV (Australia)

We follow acclaimed choreographer Meryl Tankard and composer Elena Kats-Chernin, together with artists of The Australian Ballet creating this brand new ballet and composition based on Hans Christian Andersen’s 1838 fairy-tale ‘The Wild Swans’.

We are privy to an intense and dramatic journey where beauty, technique and joy mix with pain, sweat and tears almost on a daily basis. Meryl candidly allows us to be part of her creative process, a process where her improvisation techniques need to adapt to the disciplined world of The Australian Ballet, and where, despite the pressure of time,  WILD SWANS comes together almost magically at its Sydney Opera House’s premiere.

Meryl-Tankard-Elena-Kats-Chernin-at-the-piano-and-dancers-of-the-Australian-Ballet-discuss-Wild-Swans-2003.-Photo-Regis-LansacExtra sequences were also filmed and included within the 26 min ABC TV documentary WORRIES ON A STRING, an intimate portrait of  composer Elena Kats-Chernin as she juggles sole parenthood and full time composing.

“Seeing these two incredible women, Meryl and Elena, together with visual artist Regis Lansac, collaborating with such vision, talent and intensity, truly inspired me in capturing the creative spirit of Wild Swans.”
Philippe Charluet, director.

Videos tab above
Excerpts from Possessed
(filmed at the Peter Lehmann Winery in the Barossa Valley, Sth Australia. Live music by the Ballanescu Quartet)

Michelle’s Story – opening sequence


MICHELLE’S STORY: Precious dance performance footage, filmed by Philippe Charluet throughout the 1980′s/90′s, features in this half-hour documentary produced by Kate Croser and directed by Meryl Tankard.

SYNOPSIS: At the peak of her career, Michelle Ryan was one of Australia’s leading artists, dancing under choreographer Meryl Tankard at the ADT. From there she toured the world until her dancing came to an abrupt end,diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Betrayed by her body she loses her career, mobility and marriage. Despite her damaged confidence and disability, she is drawn back to dance, becoming an inspirational artistic director at the Restless Dance Theatre, an Adelaide-based company working with young disabled people.

  • Alexa Heckmann in The Australian Ballet's Wild Swans (photo Branco Gaica)
  • Wild Swans: Behind the scenes - Documentary Poster
  • WILD SWANS - Meryl Tankard, Elena Kats-Chernin and The Australian Ballet's dancers (photo Regis Lansac)
  • Dancers of the Australian Ballet as cut-out dolls in Wild Swans. Photo: © Régis Lansac

For the Australian Ballet

Concept & Choreography
Meryl Tankard

Elena Kats-Chernin
Permission of Boosey & Hawkes Pty Ltd

Visual Design (Illuminations)
Regis Lansac

Production Design
Angus Strathie

Lighting Design
Stephen Wickham

Assistant to Ms Tankard & Ballet Mistress
Elizabeth Hill

Movement vocubulary
Devised with the dancers

The Dancers
Stephen Baynes
Annabel Bronner Reid
Adam Bull
Adrian Burnett
Michael Carter
Jane Casson
Joshua Consandine
Tim Farrar
Sophie Fletcher
Tim Harbour
Alexa Heckmann
Joshua Horner
Lana Jones
Andrew Killian
Paul Knobloch
Felicia Palanca
Andrea Parkyn
Jesse Passamani
Nelson Reguera Perez
Rachel Read
Leanne Stojmenov
Jessica Thompson
Camilla Vergotis
Damien Welch
Steven Woodgate
Wei Wei Zhang

Principal Conductor
Mark Summerbell

Guest Conductor
Simon Kenway

Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra
Orchestra Victoria

Lisa Crosato
Angela Brewer

Stage Manager
Fiona Boundy

Associate Artistic Director
Danilo Radojevic

Artistic Director
David McAllister

A ballet commissioned by
The Australian Ballet &
The Sydney Opera House

Title Artwork
Steve Georgiou Design


Production Co-ordinator
Rosalin Stock

Production Manager
Chris Oliver-Taylor

Director’s Assistant
Maureen Mitchell

Philippe Charluet
Rod Coats
Malcolm Crook
Mark Farnell
Peter Watts

Chris Coltman
Paul Freeman
Tony Helos
Shane Munroe
Darren Shine

Title Design
Julia Bourke

Online Editor & Grading
Ronnie Oliver

Sound Post Production
Andrew Jobson

Elena Christie

Philippe Charluet

Executive Producer
Richard Moore