Bringing together three iconic works that have transformed the ballet landscape of the 20th Century, The Australian Ballet has taken on an extraordinary triple bill of contemporary and classical choreography.
Vanguard is the coming together of three prolific choreographers (George Balanchine, Jiri Kylian and Wayne McGregor CBE) and their vision of the modern world of ballet.
The performance opens with The Four Temperaments, Balanchine’s “Dance without a plot”. Intricate rhythms and complex choreography test the skills of The Australian Ballet dancers as they evoke the four temperaments that reside within the human psyche. Melancholic, sanguinic, phlegmatic and choleric are embodied through the dancers movement and the echoed through the score.
There is no doubting that Balanchine was a master of the 20th Century and one of the most influential choreographers in modern history, yet this “dance without a plot” lacks the substance of his other works. Portrayed beautifully by the entire ensemble, the missing link of narrative structure lets an otherwise incredible piece down.
Act two is a vibrant and astonishing work, unlike any other ballet. Part masquerade, part contemporary dance, part classical ballet; the colour, energy and beauty is impossible to resist. From the curtain that swallows dancers whole to the swirling score, Bella Figura, originally choreographed by Jiri Kylian, is an exciting piece where dreams meet reality in an explosion of sound and sight.
The final breathtaking ballet of the evening is Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929. A thrilling performance that makes use of a monochromatic set and “elasticized” ballet dancers whom contort and conform into the impossible positions McGregor has envisioned. Moritz Junge and Lucy Carter must be commended for their incredible costume and set designs that set this final piece apart, bringing the audience’s gaze through to the action through an inventive use of pattern and light.
The entire production is pulled together perfectly by Music Director and Chief conductor, Nicolette Fraillon. The somewhat eclectic score of contrasting tempos within The Four Temperaments is placed against the fluid notes of Bella Figura and the crazed energy of Dyad 1929 in a seamless manner. With over 10 years experience with The Australian Ballet, Fraillon knows the importance of giving the dancers the time to interpret the dance within the music, allowing the two (visual and aural) artistic forms to compliment each other.
Vanguard is an exciting bill that will have both ballet purists and the more contemporary crowds in raptures. If nothing else, this is a rare and exciting opportunity to witness some of the most important ballet masters works in Melbourne.
The Australian Ballet presents
with Orchestra Victoria
Venue: the Arts Centre Melbourne | State Theatre
Dates: 6 – 17 June 2013