A CHEEKY dig comparing the Aussie male to a courting lyrebird will be part of a trio of works returning to the stage to celebrate the Australian Ballet's 50th anniversary.
Yarraville performer Leanne Stojmenov will take part in all pieces which comprise the 'Icons' triple bill of works that shaped the country's leading ballet company.
Robert Helpmann's The Display was a hit on debut at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in 1964; Glen Tetley's Gemini shocked audiences in 1973; and Graeme Murphy's Beyond Twelve cemented a uniquely Australian place on the world stage in 1980.
Stojmenov says the dream program highlights the talent and daring that defines the history of ballet in Australia.
"These were significant works created for the Australian Ballet," she says. "They're all very Australian in their own way."
Perth-born Stojmenov joined the Australian Ballet in 2001 and was last year promoted to principal artist.
The 31-year-old has been passionate about ballet since she was 13. Her career highlights include roles as Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Odette in Swan Lake and Kitri in Don Quixote.
But there's still one role that has continued to evade the ballet star. "I would definitely love to do Giselle!"
In the meantime, Stojmenov is excited to be part of Icons, particularly her turn in The Display.
The work was created by Helpmann at the behest of the Australian Ballet's founding artistic director, Peggy van Praagh.
Combining depictions of national character traits with beautiful, lush native landscapes, The Display amusingly relates the lyrebird's mating rituals to the behaviour of men fighting over a woman at an Aussie picnic.
Artistic director David McAllister says the works reveal how the company established its identity in its first three decades.
"This bill reveals the immense growth that took place in the early years, and they remain vibrant and relevant."
Icons opens tomorrow night at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne.
Bookings: australianballet.com.au or 1300369741.