The first issue of the year always looks back to the past, with the publication of our annual Critics’ Survey. Each year Dance Australia’s own team of dedicated critics, together with guest critics from around the country, nominates their highlights (and lowlights) of the previous year. As usual it is a fascinating overview of the Australian dance landscape. Categories include Most Outstanding Dancer, Most Outstanding Choreographer and Most Significant Event. See if you agree with their choices and see a sneak preview below of Nina Levy's top picks.
Nina Levy (Perth)
Dance Australia, Seesaw Magazine (WA)
Highlight of the year
November in Perth – an unofficial dance festival! There were seven dance programs presented in one month, all by local companie s/institutions/artists. The standard was excellentand the concentration of dance created a lovely buzz in the community.
Most significant dance event
The retirement of the wonderful Nanette Hassall as head of the dance department at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts after 25 years in the role. Over a thousand young dancers have passed through WAAPA under her watchful gaze, with so many going on to play their role in the community as dancers, choreographers, teachers and more.
The sudden passing of dance critic David Hough in September of this year; I think I speak for many when I say that it feels like we lost him mid-conversation.
Most interesting Australian independent group or artist
Stephanie Lake. In November I had the privilege of watching a run-through of Stephanie Lake’s Colossus by the cast who will
perform the work at the 2020 Perth Festival in February … my first chance to see a Stephanie Lake work live. What a mind! Can’t wait to see Colossus on stage.
Most outstanding choreography
precipice, by independent choreographer Rachel Arianne Ogle. It was a real treat to see Ogle’s exhilarating 2014 work remounted at the State Theatre Centre of WA.
Best new work
A tie: Though relatively short, Scott Elstermann’s Act 2, Scenes 1-4, presented at The Blue Room Theatre as part of double bill “Bang! Bang!”, is a wonderfully comical interpretation of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’d love to see a full-length version.
Brooke Leeder and Dancers’ Radar, presented at the B-Shed in Fremantle, was a work of scale in terms of size, but also in terms of choreography and design. Bringing together five independent dancers and 23 student dancers from John Curtin College of the Arts on stage, this production was an example of best practice when it comes to mentoring the next generation.
Most outstanding dancer
Independent dancer Yilin Kong in everything she does (including STRUT’s workshop showings) but most recently in Sally
Richardson’s Gui Shui.
West Australian Ballet’s Juan Carlos Osma as Albrecht in Giselle.
Dancer to watch
Independent dancer Lilly King shone in Scott Ewen’s Wasps at War (presented by STRUT Dance as part of “And Then Some”), Brooke Leeder and Dancers’ Radar and Scott Elstermann’s Act 2, Scenes 1-4 (presented as part of double bill “Bang! Bang!”).
Alexa Tuzil, West Australian Ballet – a member of the corps when she performed the title role in Giselle, it was unsurprising that she was promoted to demi-soloist after that season.
The Coalition Government’s continuing disdain for the arts, demonstrated on this occasion by its decision to roll the Department
of Communications and the Arts into the new Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
West Australian Ballet’s production of Alice was an absolute highlight for me. A true “gesamtkunstwerk”.
The full Critics' Choice survey is published in the February/March issue. OUT NOW! Buy Dance Australia at your favourite retail outlet, or online here or subscribe here to make sure you see all nominations!
Pictured top: Linton Aberle, Yilin Kong, Tyrone Robinson, Niharika Senapati in Rachel Arianne Ogle's 'precipice'. Photo: Emma Fishwick