2017 CRITICS' SURVEY
Dance Australia asked critics from around the nation to nominate their picks of 2017.
DEBORAH JONES (NATIONAL)
The Australian/FollowSpot blog
Highlight of the year
The Royal Ballet’s visit to Brisbane with Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works, starring the ageless Alessandra Ferri, and Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale. Both are major additions to the RB’s repertoire and the company looked spectacular in them. An international tour without Swan Lake – a bold, welcome move.
Most significant dance event
Significant because so very, very rare:
The Australian Ballet revealed that its 2018 season will have a new one-act work by Alice Topp. She will be the first Australian woman making a substantial main-stage work since Meryl Tankard’s Wild Swans in 2003.
Most interesting Australian independent group or artist
Stephanie Lake. Love her work. Last year Blind was one of the year’s standouts. This year Chameleon, made for Queensland Ballet’s “Bespoke” program, also hit it out of the park. The piece was witty, odd, mysterious and touching.
Most interesting Australian group or artist
With Kyle Page and Amber Haines at the helm, Dancenorth could not be livelier as it bobs up all around the country and beyond but also works hard for its region.
Most outstanding choreography
Crystal Pite and Jonathan Young’s Betroffenheit, seen at the Adelaide Festival. Young’s grief at losing a child was the impetus for a stunning and unforgettable piece of dance theatre that explored deeply personal and profound feelings in a surreal, intensely theatrical way.
Best new work
Stephen Page’s Bennelong for Bangarra Dance Theatre is a vitally important work that transforms sketchily known history into the immediate and richly allusive languages of movement, music and visual art. The powerful reclamation of this key figure in early colonial Sydney is timely.
Most outstanding dancer
Queensland Ballet principal dancer Yanela Piñera (Swan Lake, Greg Horsman’s Glass Concerto); The Sydney Dance Company ensemble – so formidable right now.
Dancer to watch
Melissa Boniface, demi-soloist at West Australian Ballet. A superb Myrtle in The Great Gatsby; Mia Heathcote, recently promoted to soloist at Queensland Ballet. She has true old-fashioned glamour; Oscar Valdés and Florence Leroux-Coléno, soloists with West Australian Ballet. Their Don Q together was a treat.
The number of women choreographing for classical companies is still pitifully and embarrassingly small.
Jack Lister, a young dancer at Queensland Ballet, continues to show great choreographic promise. His Rational/Animal for QB’s Bespoke program was remarkably confident so it will be fascinating to see how he develops.
But wait - there's more! See who and what else have been selected by the critics as their highlights (and lowlights) for the year. Buy the February/March issue at your favourite magazine retailer or purchase an online copy via the Dance Australia app or go to here to subscribe.