Left – Mia and Steven Heathcote and Tim Harbour. Photo – Georges Antoni
The pinnacle of Australian dance came together in a flurry of excitement, lighting up the Arts Centre's State Theatre in a celebration of local talent and 50 years of The Australian Ballet. Bringing together the country's most renowned dance companies for the first time, Melbourne was treated to the world premiere of choreography from Sydney Dance Company, Queensland Ballet and Melbourne's own Australian Ballet uniting ballet master Steven Heathcote with daughter Mia Heathcote in Tim Harbour's Sweedeedee.
Drawing inspiration from David Bowie's 1983 album Let's Dance, the aptly titled production was an extraordinary display of the eclectic dance works being created throughout the country. Contemporary dance played a large part with companies Dancenorth, Sydney Dance Company (SDC) and Expressions Dance Company choosing slightly more eccentric pieces.
SDC's highly acrobatic themed piece, (an excerpt from 2 One Another) was a matrix-esque apocalyptic display of raw human emotion and incredible strength and agility. Grippingly real and powerful choreography was executed with sheer precision and passion by a superbly talented cast.
Among the more traditional pieces was Queensland Ballet's "excerpts from Cloudland". In what can only be described as a dream like performance conjuring images of 1940's Hollywood glamour, Queensland brought the standout piece to the entire collaboration with flawless technique, stunning costumes and a glorious soundtrack.
The only real disappointment of the evening was the short film Momentary by TasDance, (Tasmania's offering to the project), an oddly jarring and out of place piece of cinema more surreal than spectacular.
However, it was the collaboration between ballet icon Heathcote, reuniting with Justine Summers in Sweedeedee that the audience came to see. Weaving a gloriously tragic tale of love, loss, guilt and hope, choreographer Tim Harbour created a stunning piece in which the past and present joined forces to show the wealth of talent Australia has in every stage of its development.
Beautifully simple, a folk song sung from behind the scenes, Heathcote and Summers brought their magic to the stage once more, allowing room for the next generation of great dancers to grow.
A sold out audience and delighted crowd bodes well for the future of Australian dance. With the 50th anniversary reaching the mid way point, it's safe to assume another 50 years isn't out of the question. Long live the ballet!
The Australian Ballet present
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre
Dates: 7 – 16 June 2012
Tickets: $39 – $160