Sydney Choreographic Ensemble
Parramatta Riverside Theatre, reviewed April 15
With its world premiere of GRIMM, the Sydney Choreographic Ensemble has certainly set the bar high. Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia’s choreography was an excellent showcase for the individual talents of the cast. All except for one (Brittany-Jayde Duwner – formerly Leipzig Ballet) have previously danced with Sydney Dance Company and the overall standard of the dancing on offer was very high.
While the work didn’t have a straightforward narrative from beginning to end, all the different episodes melded smoothly into each other. Scenes from well known fairy tales like Snow White, The Frog Prince, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel & Gretel were executed with imaginative flair, while Ariella Casu, resplendent in a black and gold cape as the wicked stepmother/witch figure was the choreographic and dramatic anchor of the piece.
There were scenes of tenderness and joy alongside the darker, more dramatic scenes. Highlights included a lyrical duet for Snow White (Holly Doyle) and her Prince (Alex Borg) both dressed in white; and the emotionally moving journey of Victor Zarallo’s Frog Prince alongside Brittany-Jayde Duwyer’s Princess as her love allowed him to transform back into human form. The choreography and music for Little Red Riding Hood’s encounter with a gang of wolves was hard-hitting and aggressive, while the anonymous, metallic masks worn by the wolves made them appear much more menacing to a 21st century audience than a conventional wolf costume could have.
Speaking of music, GRIMM used alternate recordings from composers of different eras and styles like J.C. Bach, J.S. Bach, Arvo Part and EXEM to great effect. And while not all of James Acheson’s costumes were as theatrically stunning as that black and gold cape, they were all tasteful and appropriate to the role being played.
Congratulations to the six dancers who were the real stars of this show – Ariella Casu, Victor Zarallo, Holly Doyle, Brittany-Jade Duwner, Alex Borg and Izzac Carroll. GRIMM was non-stop action for about 70 minutes which must have been quite tiring for a cast of this size. From an audience perspective it was well worth the effort.
- GERALDINE HIGGINSON