Dance

THE NUTCRACKER AND I : A SUBLIME AND ENCHANTING EXPERIENCE

 

The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu, with ballerina Désirée Ballantyne, animations by Yeast Culture, and choreography by Jenna Lee. Photo by Mark Allen

Blending a piano rendition of Tchaikovky’s romantic melodies with 35,000 digital images and a live ballerina THE NUTCRACKER AND I produces a purely enjoyable and magical creation. Having both a world renowned concert pianist and ballerina performing against constantly changing colourful backgrounds and characters is a sublime and enchanting experience.

The production of THE NUTCRACKER AND I is quite beautiful but an unusual format. Images are projected onto a see-through black gauze screen at the front of the stage. Pianist Alexandra Dariescu and ballerina Désirée Ballantyne are illuminated behind the screen. The images tell the classical Nutcracker story. Snow is falling as the Silberhaus family decorates their Christmas tree. The magician and toymaker Drosselmeyer arrives. Presents are exchanged including a nutcracker. Clara’s dream that night includes the nutcracker fighting with the Mouse King before being transformed into a prince. The familiar story continues with matching images, both static and dynamic, on screen. Continue reading THE NUTCRACKER AND I : A SUBLIME AND ENCHANTING EXPERIENCE

MOVE BABY MOVE @ CEMENT FONDU

Amrita Hepi’s video installation “The Pace” at the Paddington gallery Cement Fondu showcases the human body in its inspirational gift to move, play and dance. This video installation cheekily, metaphorically says “break out of any customary ruts into insouciant and authentic embodiment of skipping through your life.” Pick up the skipping rope of your creativity and have some fun at the expense of staid and stuck-up conformity.

“Funk Lessons”, the now classic 1983 video by artist Adrian Piper, screening in parallel with the Amrita Hepi video at the same show, is all about dropping any notion of iconography and joyously diving into your own body’s lust to move. Forget about performing and just be your quirky freedom in motion, no matter what the doyens of dance may try to tell you. Pick-up some rudimentary tips from Piper’s suggestions about how to get going and join the happy community of blissful movers. Far from blissing out, here its all about the bliss of feeling present, grounded and free. Oh, and you can’t do it wrong because here no one cares to compare you to anyone else, so long as you are true to yourself and also stay connected in the field of shared awareness with your funky cohorts.

The feature I love about Piper’s work is that she gives you permission to put on some head phones, kindly provided in the gallery, and move to your heart’s content. What is more subversive than expressing your own dance? That’s the theme of Piper’s other two videos, “Adrian Moves to Berlin” (2007) and “Please God” (1991) that form part of this show. Step out of the social straitjacket of expectations and hierarchy, ditch the well-groomed structures of estrangement and desperation, and dance.

Also featured in this show are the exquisite artefacts of the Yirran Miigaydhu weavers. These beautiful works incarnate the artists’ circle as a meeting place to share culture and stories. Delicate, handsome and vibrant.

Amrita Hepi, Adrian Piper and the Yirran Miigaydhu weavers are at Cement Fondu, 39 Gosbell St Paddington, until 24 February 2019.

KING. AN INTERVIEW WITH SHAUN PARKER

Images Credit: Prudence Upton

For Mardi Gras 2019, Shaun Parker & Company will  present the world premiere of KING, an international music-dance collaboration between award-winning Australian director/choreographer Shaun Parker and renowned Bulgarian singer-songwriter/performance artist Ivo Dimchev.

This latest work from one of Australia’s most highly acclaimed contemporary dance companies builds on Shaun Parker & Company’s reputation for combining hard-hitting cutting-edge choreography with theatrical invention and striking soundscapes.  The Guide had the opportunity of asking some questions of Shaun Parker.

SAG:           The setting is two parts, cocktail bar and jungle.  How does the name of the show, KING, sit inside those two places?

SHAUN:    The set design is part cocktail bar, part jungle.  The men are dressed in dinner suits, complete with bow-ties pomade-slicked hair, and polished black shoes.  Only the cocktail singer is dressed in a deep wine velvet jacket, which sets him apart from the other men.  He has a seemingly otherworldly quality, possessing a gender neutral essence, and as he sings he becomes a puppet-master for the suited men beneath him.   Continue reading KING. AN INTERVIEW WITH SHAUN PARKER

DON QUIXOTE FOR CONCOURSE: AUDITIONING FOR YOUTH DANCERS

This image: Michael Braun with Rebekah Petty Act 3 – Kitri & Basilios Wedding VSB’s Don Quixote pic Michael Lean
Featured image: Don Quixote VSB photo by Michael Lean

DON QUIXOTE  is a spectacular festive and flamboyant ballet from the Victorian State Ballet.  VSB are seeking 28 male and female young dancers aged 10 to 17, to play gypsy dancers, towns children and on pointe dancers for the Dryad scene.

The story is retold through excellent  staging, mime, superb classical ballet skill and choreography, which honours the spirit of this great classical work. A cast of internationally recognized artists will bring to The Concourse the highly skilled ballet technique of original choreography by Petipa, which will be re-staged by the company’s director Michelle Sierra.  Continue reading DON QUIXOTE FOR CONCOURSE: AUDITIONING FOR YOUTH DANCERS

PARIS OPERA BALLET : A TRIBUTE TO JEROME ROBBINS

American master choreographer Jerome Robbins considered the Paris Opera Ballet as his second home after the New York City Ballet.

This production in his honour, to mark the centenary of his birth, brings together four works displaying his incredible range and versatility. All pieces are accompanied live by the splendid orchestra of the Paris Opera, meticulously and enthusiastically conducted by Valery Ovsyanikov.

Fancy Free opens the program .It inspired the musical On The Town. Nowadays it could possibly be regarded as quite dated and sexist, but the choreography is terrific.

The simple plot revolves around three boisterous sailors on 24-hour leave in New York City during the Second World War. They get drunk and try to chat up women. The French dancers , who are also splendid actors ,have a wonderful time with the jazz like moves and showy choreography which in some ways is reminiscent of Broadway /Hollywood musicals of the era. Those familiar with Robbin’s work will note the athletic and travelling steps already visible in this rather early work which is trademark ‘Robbins‘ , hinting at works such as West Side Story. Continue reading PARIS OPERA BALLET : A TRIBUTE TO JEROME ROBBINS

DEAN WALSH : REMOTE CONTROL @ EAST SYDNEY COMMUITY AND ARTS CENTRE

Sorry readers, but this performance needed editing and a dramaturg. While the idea behind it was great and the actual dance sections were terrific, it was way too dependent on technology and while yes, it was extremely intimate and revealing the monologues were far too rambling at times.

Walsh is an award-winning Australian contemporary dance and performance practitioner. He has been at the forefront of many significant shifts within the Australian arts and cultural landscape since 1991, having been significantly involved in the national contemporary dance, performance and disability-inclusive communities, major queer performance forums and the arts and environmental science sector – all progressive developments throughout his career. Continue reading DEAN WALSH : REMOTE CONTROL @ EAST SYDNEY COMMUITY AND ARTS CENTRE

DARCEY BUSSELL EVOLVED

Released to tie in with her 50th birthday ( but a little early really as it is not until April next year ) this is a large heavy coffee table book, lavishly, exquisitely illustrated which follows the life of prima ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell from her student days at White Lodge through to now, where among other things she is a judge on Strictly Come Dancing and hosts the ROH Live screenings. Bussell officially retired from performing in 2007 but is busy with numerous other projects . DARCEY BUSSELL EVOLVED has a forward by Jasper Conran and an introduction by Bussell herself. There is a list of photo credits at the back but no index.

A visual biography in some ways, we see stunning photo spreads of various posters and advertising campaigns she has been involved with as well as rehearsal and performance photographs and learn some of her backstory. Some of the photos are intimate and revealing rehearsal shots,  some of the wonderful studio shots are fluid , flowing and sculptural almost taking flight .

By the age of five Bussell was taking dancing lessons. She enrolled at the Royal Ballet Lower School at the age of 13. She joined the then Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet at 18 (now Birmingham Royal Ballet) and became the youngest principal dancer in the Royal Ballet two years later. Continue reading DARCEY BUSSELL EVOLVED

REMOTE CONTROL: SOLO DANCEWORK FROM DEAN WALSH. GIVEAWAY

Featured image: Threshold: NRC, PACT Theatre, Erskineville, Sydney 2018. Photo credit: Freya Ludowici.

Hot off the heels of Threshold:NRC at PACT earlier this year, REMOTE CONTROL is the second new full length solo work created and performed in 2018 by Dean Walsh.

In this new work, REMOTE CONTROL, Dean will choreographically investigate and showcase a series of realigned and reimagined ‘selves’ as a mature queer artist who was diagnosed as living with autism spectrum condition (ASC – Asperger’s Syndrome) and ADHD.  Dean has been an artist of national prominence for over two decades and many of his past works, solo and group, have unapologetically wrestled subject matter close to home and close-to-the-bone and always with humour, irony, wit and emotionally confronting components in equal measure. Continue reading REMOTE CONTROL: SOLO DANCEWORK FROM DEAN WALSH. GIVEAWAY

LA BAYADERE STARRING STEVEN McRAE FROM ROYAL OPERA HOUSE LIVE. GIVEAWAY

The Royal Ballet production of La Bayadère.                                                                                                         Credit: Tristram Kenton / Royal Opera House / ArenaPAL

Set in India, Marius Petipa’s stunning ballet La Bayadère, starring Australian dancer Steven McRae, tells the story of a noble warrior betrothed to a princess but in love with a temple dancer. The famous moonlit ‘white act’ – the Kingdom of the Shades – is a corps de ballet highlight as multiple images of the prince’s lost love haunt his mind.

The choreography allows two opposing ballerinas to shine, while a
bronze idol comes vividly to life in a stunning solo. Throughout, the melody and moods of Minkus’s music perfectly match the fluidity
and precision of the classical choreography and the drama of the storytelling. Continue reading LA BAYADERE STARRING STEVEN McRAE FROM ROYAL OPERA HOUSE LIVE. GIVEAWAY

SEE AUSTRALIA’S BEST YOUNG DANCERS AND CHOREOGRAPHERS

This image: Jessica Hewett by Dom O’Donnell
Featured image: Alexander Borg

Sydney’s most exciting competitive dance festival, SHARP SHORT DANCE , is back for its 11th year to unearth the country’s best young dancers and choreographers. 

Dancers and choreographers aged 21 years and under will compete for awards and highly-sought after industry secondments with major professional dance companies such as Sydney Dance Company Pre-Professional Year, Catapult Dance, Stalker Theatre, Phly Crew and Dance Makers Collective. Continue reading SEE AUSTRALIA’S BEST YOUNG DANCERS AND CHOREOGRAPHERS

VEMPATI NARTHANAM : CELEBRATING KUCHIPUDI. GIVEAWAY

Enveloped by the mellifluous movements of Kuchipudi, a classical Indian dance form.

VEMPATI NARTHANAM explores the evolution of Kuchipudi, a classical Indian dance form with an ancient history, through a lineage of masterful choreographers.  Kuchipudi, one of the 8 classical dances of India. The production will have innovative choreography in this dance form, set to the lyrical compositions of some of India’s most influential classical musicians. Continue reading VEMPATI NARTHANAM : CELEBRATING KUCHIPUDI. GIVEAWAY