• Jessica L.Wilkinson, Music Made Visible/Rockets on a Starry Night: A dual biography of George Balanchine & Lucette Aldous

    Vagabond Press

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    Music Made Visible / Like Rockets on a Starry Night: a dual biography of George Balanchine & Lucette Aldous will be an experimental, book-length long poem on the lives and works of choreographer George Balanchine and ballerina Lucette Aldous. Born in Russia, George Balanchine trained at the Imperial Ballet before defecting to Paris in 1924, where he choreographed for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. In 1933 he was brought to America by Lincoln Kirstein, and together they founded both the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet. Balanchine was the founder of the neoclassical dance style. Lucette Aldous was raised in Australia before training in the UK to become principal ballerina with Ballet Rambert, Festival Ballet and The Royal Ballet. She returned to Australia and became a principal dancer with The Australian Ballet in the 70s. Now retired from professional dancing, she lives in Perth and teaches at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. This project connects these two characters, who never met, within the space of a biographical text, in a poetic pas de deux focused on movement, composition and choreography. This hybrid experiment—developing a dual biography of two characters that are related through theme and the author’s own background, rather than through personal relation—presents new possibilities for understanding biographical narratives and the imaginative leaps that poetry can offer to the genre. Further, as there has not yet been a biographical work, let alone an innovative, poetic work, on Lucette Aldous, this work proffers a significant contribution to Australian literary history. The dual biography unfolds as a series of poems framed by dances that were choreographed and/or danced by the respective subjects. The work tests new ways in which to foreground body, movement, and music, through the biographical narrative, using poetic techniques and experimentation to emphasise a performative element in the text.

    Jessica L. Wilkinson is a poet, critic and editor from Melbourne, Australia. Her first poetry book, marionette: a biography of miss marion davies, was published by Vagabond Press in 2012 and shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Her second book Suite for Percy Grainger was published by Vagabond in 2014, a long poem from which won the 2014 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. Jessica founded Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry in 2011 and has since seen 25 issues to publication, as well as 9 single-authored books for the affiliated Rabbit Poets Series. She is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at RMIT University, and she holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne. She has received several grants and awards for her work, including the 2014 Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship in the category of Poetry, as well as grants from Creative Victoria, CAL Copyright Agency and the Australia Council. Her poems have appeared in books, newspapers and local and international journals including HOW2, Ekleksographia, Arc, The Age, Southerly, Meanjin, Overland and Best Australian Poems; her work has also appeared in international prize anthologies. She has performed her poetry in collaboration with musician Simon Charles at various festivals and events including the National Young Writer’s Festival, the Grainger Museum and the ANAM-quartetthaus. In 2016, Jessica received a DFAT Australia-Korea Foundation grant, with which she facilitated an exchange between Seoul and Melbourne poets in 2016.

    Jessica L.Wilkinson, Music Made Visible/Rockets on a Starry Night: A dual biography of George Balanchine & Lucette Aldous
    Forthcoming 2019. ISBN 978-1-925735-31-4
    Release date: TBA.


    This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.


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