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Overseas dancers bolster WA Ballet
Overseas dancers bolster WA Ballet

About a third of WA Ballet's dancers hail from overseas after a recent injection of international talent into its ranks.

Six foreign dancers will make their WA Ballet debut in one of the company's biggest, most ambitious productions, Onegin, which opens at His Majesty's Theatre next week.

Artistic director Aurelien Scannella said more than 80 per cent of applications to WA Ballet came from overseas rather than Australia.

Czech dancer Jiri Jelinek, a former Stuttgart Ballet and National Ballet of Canada principal dancer, leads the new arrivals taking the total international recruits to 11 out of 32 dancers and four young artists.

Scannella said he was disappointed that WA Ballet, despite its strong repertoire, competitive contracts and top-class facilities, did not feature on the radar of enough Australian dancers. "I've got much more demand and emails from overseas dancers than from Australian dancers," he said.

Many overseas dancers were impressed that WA Ballet was staging such challenging productions as Onegin, the John Cranko masterpiece being given its WA premiere. "I am very proud of directing an Australian company but if I can't find all my good dancers here, I have to find them somewhere else," Scannella said.

Onegin, set to music by Tchaikovsky, is based on Pushkin's novel about the arrogant aristocrat Eugene Onegin.

Scannella has plans to exp-and WA Ballet to 60 dancers.

"In Perth everybody likes big things - Cirque du Soleil, Disney on Ice - so as long as WA Ballet stays as a small company of 36 we won't be able to compete with those big productions coming to town," he said.

"It is the big fish eating the small fish."

Onegin runs from September 20 to October 5.