National Theatre Ballet School, Diamond Gala
National Theatre, St.Kilda, 29 June
Eighty is a grand age and well worth celebrating. When it is a ballet school and company based in Australia, such longevity is really worth getting excited about. The National Theatre Ballet School celebrated such an anniversary on Saturday, June 29, with a comprehensive and varied Gala event at its wonderful home in St Kilda. There was a red carpet, speeches, a sparkling ballet gala and a champagne party to finish up the night – complete with ballerina ice sculpture!
The National Theatre started its life in 1939 and was founded by opera singer Gertrude Johnson. Opera, drama and ballet schools evolved to train generations of talent, as well as its own professional company. In this volatile arts environment, it is great to see that the National Theatre Ballet School is still going strong.
The Gala treated its audience to performances from students from various levels of the National Theatre school as well as a range of guests. Stand outs included a duet by Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers Katherine Minor and Paul Mathews dancing an excerpt from Mário Radačovský’s Black Swan, White Swan. It was remarkably beautiful and Minor is a delicate yet powerful and athletic force on the stage. The Australian Ballet’s Sharni Spencer and Jarryd Madden showed beautiful precision and aplomb in their Nutcracker grand pas de deux. Damian Smith, current artistic director of the National Theatre premiered First Nature, danced by full-time students Andrea-Yolanda Batista-Vizcarra and Paolo Bartolomei. Royal New Zealand Ballet's Loughlan Prior choreographed and danced another world premiere, Lune. Victorian State Ballet dancers Nana Yamamoto and Lee Zammit made a very spirited couple in their Don Quixote pas de deux. This lively pair channelled great attitude and playfulness in addition to their strong technique.
Sadly, Melbourne City Ballet dancers made their last appearance as part of that company which folded less than 48 hours before. Long time principals Yuiko Masukawa and Tynan Wood together with newcomer Tristan Gross danced Le Corsaire pas de trios. Knowing that these dancers had lost their jobs without notice only hours before added poignancy to their professionalism and the clear passion that was demonstrated in this performance.
Such are the vicissitudes of dance. Luckily we had the likes of the legendary Eileen Tasker, Athol Willoughby, Marilyn Jones and countless others present to remind us of the endurance of dance. Congratulations to the National Theatre for a wonderful night.
- SUSAN BENDALL