West Australian Ballet Centre
Reviewed March 29
The West Australian Ballet’s "Genesis" gives 10 company dancers the opportunity to step into the role of choreographer; creating, producing and designing their own original short works. Presented annually at the West Australian Ballet Centre in Maylands, the audience is invited into the intimate space of the company’s rehearsal studio. The dancers appear at home in this setting, allowing their vulnerability, bravery and joy to shine.
The evening began with The Nymphs of Diana by Claire Voss, who continues to portray the power of women through dance, following on from her creative involvement in Concerto Impertinente! as part of Ballet at the Quarry earlier this year. Looking fierce with Lara Croft-style braids in their hair, the gutsy all-female cast of five move with electric precision through lightning speed turns and quick intricate arm movements, set to music by Yoann Lemone (Woodkid).
Known for his absurdly amusing choreography, Adam Alzaim choreographed Balloon Dog, which delivers sarcasm in spades through the trope of the tragic mime clown, referencing Marcel Marceau’s ironic words “it’s good to shut up sometimes". The striking opening image is the highlight, as a dancer (Kymberleigh Krzysztofiak-Cowley) slowly edges forward on a tricycle, a lone white helium balloon in tow. She stands, deftly wraps her arms around the balloon and bounces it nonchalantly with a push of her head. Meanwhile, the other two dancers move disjointedly, accentuating the haunting croonings and rhythms of The Flamingo’s Mio Amore.
Next came Romance in the Dark by Jack Whiter, performed with charm by charismatic duo Brent Carson and Sarah Ross. Lighthearted and jazz-inspired with a rock n roll footloose feeling, Carson and Ross are an absolute finger-snapping delight to watch, personifying the Bluesy flirtatiousness of Dinah Washington’s 1963 cover of “Romance in the Dark”, written by Big Bill Broonzy and Lil Green.
The most impressive work of the evening was My Soul for You by Matej Perunicic, who composed and produced an original ultra-cool soundtrack of the same name to accompany the duet. Effortlessly androgynous in their white boiler suits and bright green berets, the dancers (Dayana Hardy Acuna and Juan Carlos Osma) move seamlessly between articulate locking movements, smooth slides and sweeping lifts. Lighting designer Kristie Smith’s use of neon pink and green lights is magnetic. I would love to see Perunicic develop this work further.
Choreographed by Nikki Blain, the next work, A Restless Ocean, is elegant and mysterious, exploring the complexities of human nature through the contrasting states of the ocean - sometimes peaceful and monotonous, and other times tumultuous and unpredictable. Featuring two couples and inspired by Matt Bolt’s piano composition of the same name, the extremities of these feelings could perhaps be more deeply explored through movement that breaks further away from classical form.
Kymberleigh Krzysztofiaj-Cowley’s Yesterday is Not Today is a powerful and punchy trio. With steely conviction in her eyes, lead dancer Carina Roberts commands the stage, her muscular body lit in fiery red as she moves with the sharp exactness of a warrior to Jonathan B. Buchanan’s “Ready for War”. Following this was Jessy Chraibi’s Symphony in ‘F’, a fairytale pas de deux accompanied by the dreamy sounds of Tchaikovsky performed by Andrei Ioniţa. In her pink chiffon dress, Voss flitters across the stage like a djiti djiti, youthful and giddy in a flurry of puppy love.
Frames of Loss, choreographed by Polly Hilton, is a vulnerable and personal portrayal of grief that shudders and shakes through the two dancers, accompanied by Nina iImone’s cover of “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”, written by Sandy Duncan. A poignant sequence is the series of vignettes, snapshots of memories that emerge out of the shadows. Hilton should not be afraid to extend these moments of stillness and really allow the audience to absorb these images of heartbreaking rawness.
Two lovers reunite at a train station in Chihiro Nomura’s Loretta. Dressed in a vintage red dress that billows as she twirls, dancer Nikki Blain is swept up in a pas de deux with Jack Whiter that crescendos into a soaring celebration of old-time romance with music composed by Charle Williams. Matthew Lehmann’s Just Radiate closed the program, a sci-fi action group work incorporating clever choreographic patterning accompanied by the auto-tune robotic vocals of Daft Punk.
It makes me smile to see the pride and excitement expressed by each choreographer as they joined their cast on stage, took a bow and thanked their colleagues for bringing their works to life. It is clear to see that the "Genesis" season of creative collaboration is incredibly important to the dancers as an opportunity to express themselves, as well as an opportunity for audiences to connect more closely with the personal artistic interests of the dancers. A glimpse into an artist’s mind is always a privilege, and "Genesis" is certainly an opportunity for this.
- ISABELLE LECLEZIO
All photos by Bradbury Photography.