When ballet no longer has to fit the mould, all sorts of new possibilities take shape. And with challenging productions of time-honoured classics and new works from contemporary artists slated for The Australian Ballet’s 2020 season, the mould is thoroughly broken.

Leading the upcoming season is the Australian premiere of Anna Karenina, a co-production between The Australian Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet. This timeless story from Leo Tolstoy follows a woman in a loveless marriage who risks everything to find new love – with a devastating pay-off.

For literary fans who want even more, there’s also Graeme Murphy’s The Happy Prince. Based on Oscar Wilde’s classic tale of the same name, the production is an Australian interpretation of the unlikely friendship that forms between a swallow and a golden statue with a compassionate heart who gives his all to help humanity.

Alexei Ratmansky’s staging of Marius Petipa’s Harlequinade balances a mood that teeters between joyful slapstick and unselfconscious absurdity, and will delight anyone who needs to be reminded that true love conquers all.

Molto presents a trio of some of the most daring productions of the last 50 years: A Month in the Country by ballet legend Frederick Ashton, and Squander and Glory and Molto Vivace by resident choreographers Tim Harbour and Stephen Baynes respectively. Experimental, laugh-out-loud funny, and highly stylised: these short works turn the conventions of ballet into new and unlikely shapes.

Also appearing on the stage in 2020 is Volt, a triple bill celebrating contemporary dance with two works by one of Britain’s leading dance-makers, Wayne McGregor, and a brand-new work by one of The Australian Ballet’s rising stars, Alice Topp. Volt will showcase Dyad 1929, Chroma and Topp’s Logos.

Notably, this is artistic director David McAllister’s final season after leading the Australian Ballet for 20 years. He’s one of The Australian Ballet School’s first dancers to rise to the rank of AD, and the company’s longest-serving artistic director. As part of his farewell, he’ll be hosting a series of post-performance Q&A sessions with the company’s top dancers to discuss their lives and work.

And in 2020, ballet-buffs will also be able to see the company behind-the-scenes: tour the production centre in Altona (which houses more than 50 years’ worth of costumes and props); take a ballet class at Melbourne’s Primrose Potter Australian Ballet Centre (suitable for both first-timers and professionals); watch dancers rehearse pre-show; and gain new insights into the world of ballet scores, composers and musicians in the Music of the Dance series.

Away from the main stage will be Storytime Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker for young children; and the annual Ballet Under the Stars.

For tickets and the full 2020 program, visit australianballet.com.au.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the Australian Ballet