Ending my first Melbourne Festival experience with Aviary by Phillips Adams' Ballet Lab was an all-encompassing performance that appealed to every sense. Struggling to find a seat in the sell-out audience, Aviary was a clear favourite of the festival crowd.
Set in three acts, Aviary was a modern dance performance that drew inspiration from both classical and contemporary movement and its greatest muse. The bird. Based on French composer Oliver Messiaen’s exploration into birdsong from his 1958 composition Catalouge d’oiseaux, Adams has delved deep into avian nature and transposed their behaviour onto his dancers.
Set across a modern stage, a 1980’s disco and the forests of Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea, Adams' birds of paradise were exceptionally gifted both in technical dance and acting ability. Finding the spirit of the bird in their movement, the performers were both alarming and humorous in their interpretation of both male and female bowerbird courtship.
Using colour and music to attract each other, the avian creatures were truly magnificent. The strength of the entire cast made the entire production ever more enjoyable. Watching the combination of classical ballet with bird-like nuances was as gorgeous as being transported into the tropical jungle.
Adams created a fantasy place where birds can dance, can play and can fly. These wonderful dancers embodied the birds they played in every sense, they danced, built nests and courted each other as though they were in the wild, and the freedom that came with being a bird was evident in their movement. A beautiful escape from reality, Aviary was a journey through the stunning landscape of avian life.
Developed in association with the Australian Ballet, Aviary was the perfect finale to a wonderful festival that covered every sector of the arts in Melbourne’s thriving entertainment community.
BalletLab in association with Melbourne Festival presents
Direction and Choreography Phillip Adams
Venue: North Melbourne Town Hall, Arts House | 521 Queensberry Street North Melbourne
Dates: 19 – 23 October, 2011
Tickets: $48.00 – $32.00
Bookings: Arts House (03) 9322 3713 | Ticketmaster 1300 723 038