There is nothing quite like seeing a contemporary ballet reflect the world in which we live in. For such a traditional dance form where discipline is paramount in the execution of movement, to see such fluidity and freedom amidst the dancers is refreshing and forward-thinking. The Australian Ballet‘s Artistic Director David McAllister says this triple bill is a way for audiences to tune out from their hectic lives and allow you “to enjoy the wondrous physicality and beauty of these three amazing works.”
“This program demonstrates that 21st-century ballet is also constantly evolving. All three ballets show the responsiveness of today’s dancers. It is thrilling to see the plasticity and energy they can explore in the hands of modern ballet’s most exciting choreographers,” McAllister said.
Faster opens the show with an explosive take on the 2012 London Olympic Games. For an event that is so widely known, to see it brought to life through dance was original and very clever. Choreographer David Bintley was inspired by the Olympic motto Faster, Higher, Stronger and regards this ballet as an homage to the purity of the Olympic ideal. With a dynamic score composed by Matthew Hindson each duo, trio or small groups were able to represent the various Olympic sports providing comic relief, but also a different way for the body to move. It was clear to see which group of sports were represented as the abstract movements were used in a symbolic way rather than a literal recreation. With a stand out pas de deux exploring the fragility of injury, and a jaw-dropping final running piece with the whole company it is clear to see the potential for where future ballet works can go. Nothing is off limits because realistically, who would ever have thought that an Olympic based ballet would transcend?! Dance is sport, so this is the perfect reflection of that.
Excitingly, Squander and Glory is a world premiere work created by Australian choreographer Tim Harbour which explores the ideas from an essay written by French philosopher Georges Bataille. It’s about expressing an overload of movement which at its core, is then lost. This powerful piece saw the company begin in a pack, moving freely, much like an amoeba, syncing with each other’s movement and body patterns. The then progressive expansion of the movement meant the work as a whole showed that bodily energy must be exerted, burst in a way, and then gone. With a score by Michael Gordon, the dancers were able to show their quick movements and highlight the musical accents which may go unnoticed otherwise. It is a glorious piece of Australian work and one that is sure to draw international attention.
It is clear to see why Infra closed the triple bill. This emotive work choreographed and conceptualised by Wayne McGregor is an in-depth exploration at how we as human beings exist on this Earth. Set against projections by British artist Julian Opie and Max Richter’s haunting score, this powerful work draws on the regular rhythms of city life and juxtaposes them with the franticness of uninvited events. McGregor put it best by saying:
“The dancers at the Australian Ballet are very athletic animals, and I thought that the richness of the athleticism and the emotional temperature of that work would suit them really well. And I wanted Australian audiences to experience that and understand that was part of the way in which I think about choreography. Technology as a communication tool is phenomenal but sometimes it’s at the expense of talking to people: looking them in the eye. Dance is all about the interpersonal, it’s all about the private in the moment; it’s about the intimate.”
The Australian Ballet continues to push boundaries and conventional ideologies as to what ballet should be. Yes, its basis stems from theory and repertoire, but in the 21st century, dance must evolve and that is exactly what they are doing. The company of dancers are nothing short of inspiring not only through their movement but through their storytelling.
Faster will run from April 7-26 at the Sydney Opera House. For tickets and further information, head here.