With winter chillingly upon us, it was easy to get comfortable in the red velveted State Theatre, and enjoy the elegant precision featured in the three ballets comprising New Romantics - Apollo, Constant Variants and After the Rain©. For this is a programme of neoclassical dance, a ‘back to basics’ production, without any glamorous tutus, headpieces or jewels to crowd the dancers’ athleticism. It is also Steven Heathcote's last performance on stage in his role as Principal.
A large staircase with ascending steps is chosen as the backdrop for the opening ballet, George Balanchine’s Apollo. Wearing white dress leotards with minimal frills and accompanied by a musical score by Stravinsky, the three muses compete to join the god (Adam Bull) in a pas de deux. Each muse, of poetry (Robyn Hendricks), mime (Danielle Rowe) and dance (Olivia Bell) presents an individual showcase, displaying moments of arrogance, sensuality and cheek.
By contrast, Constant Variants, choreographed by Stephen Baynes is less traditional. It is faster in pace, abstract in timing, and is performed to a penetrating cello solo composed by Tchaikovsky. The mood is darker: the costumes are still subdued, with black and brown leotards flecked with silver for the females; sheer grey and black boy-legged leotards for the males. The stage is magnificently shaped by corners of a picture frame, carefully assembled to capture the vitality of the eight dancers which adorn the stage in several portraits of movement.
A pitter patter sound emerges as ballet shoes hit the stage in rapid succession in the opening moments of the final ballet, After the Rain©. This ballet can be described as an intricate emotional crescendo accentuated by the sounds of a lyrical piano, and gentle violins. It concludes with Steven Heathcote and Kristy Martin delivering an emotional delicacy, as they intertwine their bodies seamlessly and skilfully anticipate each other’s movements. Before those around me rose to their feet in a standing ovation, they whispered, ‘that was beautiful’. And it is, because of its simplicity.
Australian Ballet presents
with Orchestra Victoria
State Theatre | the Arts Centre
22 June – 3 July (12 performances)
$30-$107 (a booking fee may apply and proof of age may be required for concession tickets)
1300 136 166 or ticketmaster.com.au