Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The Australian Ballet

State Theatre, the Arts Centre, Melbourne

August 28, 2008

Interplay is a triple bill of new ballets, focusing on the interaction between choreography, composition and design.

Choreographed by Stephen Baynes, Night Path is a mysterious piece, set in the world of the subconscious. It follows a woman, exquisitely danced by the ethereal Madeleine Eastoe, as she floats impassively through dreamscapes, surrounded and supported by a small but excellent cast.
Leanne Stojmenov, Daniel Gaudiello and Tzu-Chao Chou are brilliant in their jazzy trio, while Andrew Killian as Eastoe’s main partner is both tender and strong.
Using non-traditional yet elegant shapes, the choreography is carefully structured and closely allied to the music, which was composed by Richard Mills. With flattering costumes, draped fabric backdrops and delicate tree branches suspended above the stage, Michael Pearce’s stunning design enhances the overall concept.

Matjash Mrozewski’s Semele is based on classical technique, but uses a wide movement vocabulary to express the mythical narrative. The cinematic score by Gerard Brophy helps to build the drama, assisted by Adam Gardnir’s evocative yet simple design.
The gods, Juno and Jupiter, dance a restrained yet powerful duet, performed by Olivia Bell and Robert Curran (pictured above, image by Jeff Busby). There’s a sustained sense of possession as Bell sinuously extends her long limbs, intimately entwining them in subtly controlling embraces of her husband.
Meanwhile, the illicit love scenes for Jupiter and mortal Semele, danced by Juliet Burnett, are arranged with seemingly endless positions for creative lovemaking, yet even their kisses are executed without passion. While technically sound, Curran and Burnett’s characterisations are unfortunately weak in comparison to Bell, who is outstanding as the imposing, jealous goddess.

The most abstract of the three ballets, The Possibility Space by Nicolo Fonte is busy and modern. Set to an incredibly difficult score by Ross Edwards, Fonte’s convoluted choreography echoes the constantly changing rhythms and melodies of the music.
There’s a sumptuous moment of clarity when the ensemble perform a languid adage, perfectly suited to the breathy strings of the accompaniment, yet it’s all too brief. In chaotic solos, duets and trios, the dancers rotate their hips, shoulders and elbows while performing demanding leaps, turns and balances, often at breakneck speed.
Combined with Markus Pysall’s kingfisher-blue costumes, a black set and bright white lights, the detail is overwhelming.

In what was a risky program for The Australian Ballet, the gamble has mostly paid off due to the high calibre of artists involved and some fine performances by the dancers.

First published in The Age newspaper

For more info and images visit the Interplay website

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