Ever After Ever | Sydney Dance CompanyPhotos - Jeff Busby

This program is Melbourne's last chance to see Sydney Dance Company under the directorship of Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon before they hand the reins to Tanja Liedtke in October. After 30 years at the helm, the couple have amassed a phenomenal body of work, and from this have compiled Ever After Ever as a farewell tribute especially for Melbourne.

It is an exhilarating and entertaining selection of tasty tidbits new and old for the Murphy repertoire, and encapsulates two vital aspects of the artistic director's SDC tenure: the incredible scope of his repertoire in terms of vision, approach and style (which in turn shows off the brilliant versatility of the dancers), but also the importance of the dancers' individuality to the creation of the work (Murphy said after watching the opening night performance that the stage had been "very crowded" with the ghosts of all the former SDC dancers who had performed the roles in seasons past).

The opener – an excerpt from Murphy's 1999 work Air and Other Invisible Forces (1999) – is exquisite, set to the soughing, murmuring strings of the first movement of Giya Kancheli's Mourned by the wind. As a group, the dancers create the most glorious illusions; later they break away, their movement shifting for ethereal and weightless to something more searching, purposeful. Simon Turner and Teagan Lowe moved seamlessly in pas de deux, lending an understated yearning to the movement.

In an excerpt from 2002's Ellipse, Reed Luplau and Adam Blanch dazzled as couple of adrenalin charged cowboys – a high speed, amped up Western set to Matthew Hindson's Homage to Metallica part two. It's a scintillating variation, right down to the slapstick, with the costumes from Akira Isogawa giving new meaning to the term spaghetti western.

Berlin – what a pleasure to revisit an extended selection of this evocative and seductive work from 1995. All night the dancers were generous and wholehearted (as they always are), however seemed to draw on something even deeper within for this particular work – not only were they incredible, expansive movers, but also superb dramatic artists who made the spine tingle. Complicated Game – the concluding excerpt – was a riveting, urgent finale; the lighting design from John Rayment creating the necessary sense of apprehension.

Highlights from Tivoli – originally performed with the Australian Ballet in 2001 – offered tongue-in-cheek nostalgia and fabulous costumes from the incomparable Kristian Fredrikson. This look back at the hey-day of Australian vaudeville entertainment is vivid and affectionate, and so clever. In 'Fashion in the Foyer' Tracey Carrodus was hysterical, kicking up a stink as the overlooked Miss Tasmania, while Simon Turner and Bradley Chatfield had the audience in tears of laughter reprising their roles as 'The Colossal Spartacus Brothers' – the pair of strongmen whose awesome might is not quite what it seems, thanks to some technological trickery.

After the elegant, the frenetic, the theatrical, comes something deeply personal. Short Stories, Murphy's final work created for the company and a personal gift to the dancers, is a stripped back affair – the dancers, clad in miscellaneous dancewear, are the sole focus as they move to the playful piano of Carl Vine's Anne Landa Preludes. Here we see the relationship between Murphy and his dancers, the effect of their inspiration, in its purest form. It is a moving finale to a delightful program. How lucky we Melburnians are.

Sydney Dance Company present

State Theatre | The Arts Centre
7 - 14 July 2007
Monday - Saturday @ 7.30pm; matinee Saturday (14 July) @ 3.30pm
$39.00 - $70.00
Ticketmaster 1300 136 166 or www.ticketmaster.com.au

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