La Bayadere, aka The Temple Dancer, one of Marius Petipa’s resplendent ballets, opened in St Petersburg Theatre in 1887 and it hit the spot for an audience obsessed with anything oriental. Its story of doomed love helped a bit, too, as did its visual cornucopia.

Choreographers of that period had a thing about deceased, unrequited love-maidens descending from the spiritual world bent on revenge – a perfect opportunity for spectacular costumes and sensational entrances and exits.

In Petitpa’s Bayadère this event occurs in the second act with the Entrance of the Shades, where maidens in white tutus descend a winding path in silhouetted splendour, and (hopefully) in perfect and beautifully devised synchronicity. It’s rather like watching a cascading waterfall obeying, in slow motion, the pull of gravity. It must have been amazing in Petipa’s time – he had a corps of 64 ballerinas.

It is still, in the parlance of today, the money shot, the scene that ensures La Bayadère’s continued programming, because, not withstanding its demanding choreography and the thrill of watching soloists master the virtuosity their roles call for, it is not the sum of its parts.

Although lauded Australia choreographer Greg Horsman has reimagined Petipa’s composition, Nigel Gaynor re-arranged Ludwig Minkus’s...