His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth
The West Australian Ballet’s “Ballet to Broadway” is exactly as the name suggests, a simple showcase of both classical ballet and Broadway charm. While this simplicity is refreshing amongst the current noise of modern adaptations, the show naturally lacks the creative edge necessary to be exceptional. Nevertheless, the show is spirited and easy to enjoy.
The triple bill program opens with Raymonda [Act III] Pas Classique Hongrois. Choreographed by Javier Torres (after Marius Petipa), this version maintains the original structure of entrée, adagio, variations and finale, but a few of the variations are from other acts. Further, some solos are converted into duets and trios, giving more dancers time in the spotlight. Principals Kiki Saito and Oscar Valdes were contrasts of each other; Saito danced with fluidity and daintiness, while Valdes boasted bravado and confidence. They gave a lovely performance together, but I would have liked to see a bit more emotional portrayal.
Next is the Pas de deux from Sylvia, choreographed by Aurelien Scannella and Sandy Delasalle-Scannella (after Louis Merante). Again, this version had a traditional feel. The principals, Chihiro Nomura and Gakuro Matsui, were careful and delicate in their partnering. While their movement was technically sound, I felt as though the embodiment of romance was a little lacking.
The set in the first half of the show (designed by Torres) is clean and minimal with a single chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The costumes (designed by Erika Turunen) were complementary to the set, consisting of beige tutus and jackets with plenty of sparkle. The subtle lighting changes throughout (designed by Lucy Birkinshaw) foreshadowed changes in character and scene and were a thoughtful touch.
After a short interval, the final performance of the evening is George Balanchine’s Who Cares?. Laced with jazz elements, this piece offered a vibrant and punchy change from the gentleness of the first two performances. Synchronicity is essential for the success of this piece, with so many transitions and repetition in the choreography. As usual, the corps de ballet rose to this challenge and delivered a polished routine with personality and style. The four soloists, Julio Blanes, Candice Adea, Glenda Garcia Gomez and Carina Roberts, each brought energy and cheek, and Blanes, who partnered with all three women, ably executed some demanding sequences.
The set for the second half of the show (designed by Alan Lees) was particularly notable, being a recreation of the New York skyline. The audience, including myself, audibly gasped as the curtain lifted after the interval.
The West Australian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jessica Gethin, steadfastly canvassed the musical supremacy of Alexander Glazunov, Leo Delibes and George and Ira Gershwin throughout.
As was no doubt intended in the staging of these classic works, I was swept to a bygone era of glamour and elegance. However, there was a clear choice to minimise creative risks, and ultimately, this resulted in a safe and conservative show. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, some degree of passion seemed to be missing, especially in the first act. I appreciate that passion is hard to convey in pieces that are divorced from their storylines (as were the first two pieces), but perhaps further characterisation could have added the depth the show needed to be truly captivating.
In “Ballet to Broadway”, the West Australian Ballet celebrates traditional ballet earnestly and honourably. While the show is perhaps devoid of innovativeness, it is also devoid of unnecessary modernisation, and will give audiences a pleasant and upbeat evening.
- ALANA KILDEA
'Ballet to Broadway' continues to May 13.