SOME of the stars of  the American Ballet Theatre's first ever Australian performances came out to play today to promote the huge coup for south-east Queensland.

The shows are exclusive to this year's Brisbane Festival event.

"There are sins of omission that happen in the world, and sometimes you just have to put your shoulder to it to fix it," ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie told APN.

"The ABT would boast that it's toured all 50 states and over 40 countries, but we'd never been to Australia and people would say 'what's up with that?' But that's where the conversation would end.

"There have been many attempts throughout the years, the Australian Ballet was going to host us once, but it's a huge logistical undertaking. It takes the right series of circumstances to make it happen."

The ABT, which is America's national ballet company, will perform two shows in late August and early September during the annual arts festival.

The company will stage the classic Swan Lake and a trio of masterpieces.

"If you say the words 'Swan Lake' you think the word 'ballet' and if you say the word 'ballet' you think 'Swan Lake'," McKenzie said.

"Classics are a standard of measure, which is why we do it annually. Every big company needs to define the art form through this ballet."

McKenzie said the three masterpieces - Bach Partita, Seven Sonatas and Fancy Free - are all significant works for the company for various reasons.

"Fancy Free is one of the identity-making works of ABT," he said.

"It's the template of what became On The Town, the famous movie with Gene Kelly. It's a monster masterpiece of three geniuses before they were who they were, the team that would go forward to define the American musical (Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein and Oliver Smith).

"Fancy Free is an iconic piece for us and we've done it constantly throughout our whole existence."

Bach Partita is by the ABT's long-time choreographer Twyla Tharp.

"She's done most new work for the ABT in its history," McKenzie said.

"She is an iconic American choreographer. She was one of the breakthrough artists who started the conversation about whether or not it was a good idea for classical ballet and modern dance to meld and showed us that they should."

The final masterpiece is by the ABT's current artist in residence, Alexei Ratmansky.

"He was a former director of the Bolshoi. He's a high in-demand choreographer and proudly on our team," he said.

"He has created seven works for us at present and this (Seven Sonatas) was one of the first he did. It's a very intimate piece, like walking around an intimate dinner party and over hearing the conversations."

The Australian shows also serve as the start of the ABT's 75th anniversary season.

"Australia will be our first stop on this season and we felt it was important not just for Australia, but for us in general throughout the year to highlight heritage repertoire" McKenzie said.

"To look back and look forward, you know, where have we been and where are we going?"

The American Ballet Theatre presents Swan Lake from August 28 to September 4 and Three Masterpieces from September 5 to 7 at QPAC.

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