Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Graduate Exhibition

The Australian Ballet School

State Theatre, the Arts Centre, Melbourne

September 21, 2008

The Australian Ballet School has a tradition of providing outstanding ballet training, producing the majority of dancers in Australia’s professional ballet companies and many others who find work overseas. The graduating class of 2008 is no exception, displaying not only fine technique but more importantly, great performance skills.

In a range of solos, pas de deux and ensemble pieces from the traditional story ballets, all of the students are extremely well rehearsed, with barely a miss-step to be seen. Whether as playful cats or royal courtiers, their characterisations are charming. Standing out from the cohort, Kristy Corea is delightful as the dream-like Dulcinea in the Dryad Scene from Don Quixote, while Luke Marchant is perfectly princely in the Florestan pas de trois from The Sleeping Beauty.

Another side to the training at the school is shown in a series of neo-classical vignettes taken from Jiri Kylian’s early works, including Sinfonietta (pictured above). Unfortunately some of the Dream Dances didn’t come off quite smoothly enough, although Brett Chynoweth was impressive in his lyrical solo. Karen Nanasca and Daniel Roberts handled a complex duet from Kylian’s Return to a Strange Land with great skill and emotional maturity.

Choreographed by former Australian Ballet company member Timothy Harbour, Ignis is an interesting modern ballet which the performers appear to relish. Accompanied by a luscious Paul Giger score, Harbour contrasts dynamic male allegro sections against elegant partner work, experimenting with hand-held lighting and original movement pathways.

From the opening parade of the entire school in Grand Defilé to the exuberant joy of the final Graduation Waltz, the young dancers fill the cavernous space of the State Theatre with their enthusiasm and energy. Their versatility and competence in both classical and contemporary pieces bodes very well for the future of ballet in Australia.

First published in The Age newspaper

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