• The dancers of the West Australian Ballet in 'Before Nightfall'.
    The dancers of the West Australian Ballet in 'Before Nightfall'.
  • Nikki Blain and Adam Alzaim in 'With In Sight'.
    Nikki Blain and Adam Alzaim in 'With In Sight'.
  • Carina Roberts and Matthew Lehmann in 'Galatea and Pygmalion'.
    Carina Roberts and Matthew Lehmann in 'Galatea and Pygmalion'.

Heath Ledger Theatre, Perth
Reviewed: Saturday, June 25

In its second year, the WA Ballet’s “STATE” is emerging as a celebration of bold neoclassical and contemporary choreography. This triple bill show includes pieces from internationally acclaimed choreographers Craig Davidson, Nils Christe, Li Sze Yeung Justyne and Wong Tan Ki. While the pieces are loosely connected through melancholic themes, the real threads binding the works are the intricacy of the choreography and the precision with which it is executed. 

The program begins with With/In/Sight, a new work by Australian choreographer Craig Davidson that explores human experiences of chaos and clarity. The choreography in the first half consists of several dancers executing differing and busy movement which eventually comes to a head in a slow pas de deux. The chaos of the beginning of the piece is contrasted by the slow, building score by Jonathan Heck.  

Julio Blanes, Dayana Hardy Acuna and Chihiro Nomura were all excellent in With/In/Sight. Nomura’s strength and precision shone in the busier sections, whereas Hardy Acuna offered gentle, fluid movement in the pas de deux with Blanes. Blanes’s partnering (with both Hardy Acuna and Nomura) was of a high quality. At one point, Nomura, impressively, ran and slid en pointe towards Blanes, and Blanes, impressively, caught her just before she lost momentum. The trust between them was a pleasure to see. The costumes by Alana Sargent The costumes by Alana Sargent, consisting of mostly grey skirts and trousers with a few pops of red, are a good fit for the performance’s gloomy undertones. While the piece, overall, is not revolutionary, it reveals the WA Ballet’s appetite for challenge, and the company certainly rose to the occasion. 

The second work in the program is Galatea & Pygmalion, choreographed by Li Sze Yeung Justyne and Wong Tan Ki. This award-winning pas de deux, set to Phillip Glass’s elegant score, was created in 2010 and depicts the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculpture who falls in love with his creation, Galatea. The simplicity of having only two dancers on stage (Carina Roberts and Matthew Lehmann) was a welcome change from the first part of the evening.

For me, this performance was the standout. Roberts was exceptional as the statue, Galatea, holding difficult positions for lengthy periods and moving with both stiffness and agility as the piece required. Lehmann’s distinctive storytelling ability is well-suited for the role of Pygmalion, and he unfolded the plot with conviction and total believability. Both Roberts and Lehmann danced with equal levels of sophistication, and their teamwork was obvious by their near faultless performance. It was a great night for them both.

After a short interval, 12 dancers performed the final piece, Nils Christe’s Before Nightfall. This popular work, set to Bohuslav Martinu’s ominous score, projects an atmosphere of impending doom, and includes three pas de deux and a pas de six. The darkness of the piece is complemented by the costumes (Annegien Sneep) and set design (Thomas Rupert), both of which included patterns of white and deep blue.  

The three pas de deux (Nomura and Oscar Valdés, Kiki Saito and Lehmann, Hardy Acuna and Juan Carlos Osma) gave equally polished performances. The pas de six (Polly Hilton, Ludovico Di Ubaldo, Kymberleigh Krzysztofiak-Cowley, Brent Carson, Claire Voss and Izaak Westhead) also offered refined performances, especially the women. Hilton, Krzysztofiak-Cowley and Voss’ synchronicity was superb, and evidenced their commitment to the overall performance.

The works in this year’s season of “STATE” are technical and demanding, and, on this night, the WA Ballet executed them with precision and poise. I look forward to seeing “STATE” continue to bring high quality contemporary works to Perth audiences.


'STATE' continues until July 2.

All photos by Ray Bradbury.

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Watch Craig Davidson rehearse his new ballet with the dancers of the West Australian Ballet below:

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