Destiny, by the Australian Ballet

November 21, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Ballet Review | Leave a comment
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I went to a performance by The Australian , at the Sydney Opera House.

Nov 21, 2007 by Show_Hanger

The programme consisted of two pieces: Les Presages and Symphonie Fantastique. This performance is part of The Australian Ballet’s four year series to celebrate the Ballets Russes; last year they paid homage to Mikhail Fokine with Revolutions.

Les Presages: This was choregraphed by Massine, to Tchaikovsky’s Fifth symphony, and reconstructed by Tatiana Leskova – who was in the Original Ballet Russe in 1939 – assisted by Wendy Walker. The dance is about “man’s struggle with his destiny” – after a series of struggles man triumphs. It is an abstract work, and some precursors to modern dance can be seen in the choreography. Most of the moves are moves are balletic, but there are elements which do not come from classical technique – some of the interaction between the dancers take place on or near the floor. There are bold lifts and dancers, or groups of dancers, who directly represent concepts like: Action, Temptation,Passion, Destiny, Frivolity. Which are mixed together into dances named: Action, Passion, Frivolity, and War-and-Peace. The dancing was bold, strong and technically very good.

Symphonie Fantastique was originally choreographed by Massine to Hector Berlioz’s music of the same name. This particular choreography is by Krzysztof Pastor – essentially a new work; the world premiere was on 30 August 2007 by The Australian Ballet, in Melbourne. This was only clear to me after the ballet, when I had an opportunity to read the – very well put together – programme. On the night, I watch a ballet that (to me was) was clearly influenced by the strong Fascist and Nationalistic ideas going around Europe in the 30’s. I apologise to Pastor if this was not his intent. The thirties feel was reinforced by the costumes and bare sets. The dance tells a less abstract story than the first Act. A young man dreams of his perfect women, but when the opportunity comes to meet such a women, he rejects her.

All-in-all, this perfomance showcased the talent and skill pocessed by the male dancers in The Australian Ballet. The ballerinas were not left standing to one side either. In the Second Act, I found the reoccuring theme of an orange wall (composed of ballerinas) separating the man and the women very effective – and well danced.

The orchestra was wonderful. Something I had not seen before: there were two conductors. Christopher van Tuinen did the honors in the First Act and Nicolette Fraillon did the Second Act. I had a very enjoyable night. I might even give modern dance more of a chance!

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The Sydney Opera House is a truely world class venue. The performance took place in the Opera Theatre auditorium – as opposed to the adjacent Concert Hall. A novelty for me was that the stalls are almost at the same level as the stage. Being in the fourth row, I was separated from the dancers by only the orchestra pit. This gave a sense of intimacy not possible with a raised stage.

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