Picture a balmy Perth summer evening and grass-covered limestone terracing, then fill this scene with a relaxed crowd, deck chairs and picnic hampers and you have Ballet at the Quarry – the annual setting for a series of diverse ballet performances from the West Australian Ballet.
Before the show began, the dancers limbered up on stage, casually executing impossible stretches as the last rays of daylight faded. The night opened with 5, one of the more traditional pieces but fast-paced, poignant and visually stunning in beautiful costuming by Japanese designer Yumiko Takeshima.
5 was juxtaposed with To the Pointe, a deviation from traditional ballet but an enjoyable and accessible performance. It is always a treat to see West Autralian Ballet veteran Jayne Smeulders on stage, and she wowed the audience with a series of backflips. Special guest BBoy Pepito complemented the dancers with exceptional breakdancing and it was a successful merger of diverse dance styles.
Ambiguous Content contained some standout performances, particularly from another veteran, Brooke Widdinson-Jacobs, whose lithe figure and fluid form was memorable.
On the Nature of Daylight, crafted by internationally renowned choreographer David Dawson, was a pared back performance in the capable hands of Ballet Mistress Sandy Delasalle and Matthew Lehmann.
Andre Santos was not only a exceptional performer but also the choreographer of the final ballet, In Black, which was a reflection on ballet itself and the training involved. It was a fitting finale – energetic, interesting and powerful. The scene with four male dancers was particularly commanding, punctuated with a strong drumbeat and driving rhythm.
Watching toned bodies casting rhythmic shadows on the limestone cliff face and a backdrop of stars framing the performance, all with a glass of wine in hand, Ballet at the Quarry is always a euphoric experience and the opening night of 2016 did not disappoint.
West Australian Ballet presents
Five by Night: Ballet at the Quarry
Venue: The Quarry Amphitheatre, 1 Waldron Drive, Perth WA
Dates: 5 – 27 February 2016
Part of the 2016 Perth International Arts Festival