Ballet

AUSTRALIAN BALLET PRESENTS GISELLE @ THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

The Australian Ballet is in glorious form with this revival of GISELLE. It is the much loved Maina Gielgud version, replacing the much anticipated The Happy Prince that has had to be postponed because of Graeme Murphy’s illness.

GISELLE originally premiered in 1841 and is considered one of the great Romantic ballets , telling the story of madness , deceit and betrayal , vengeful spirits and a love that conquers death.

In this beautifully designed version Peter Farmer’s set and costume designs are mostly in russet colours for Act 1 and then an eerie forest glade for Act 2.

The Orchestra under the inspired baton of Simon Thew was in splendid, luxurious form too playing Adam’s haunting score magnificently.

The large corps de ballet was in excellent form , the crisscrossing, interlinking patterns of the various village dances in Act 1 crisply, precisely performed .The peasant pas de deux ( Aya Watanabe and François-Eloi Lavignac) was a great show stopping interlude. In Act 2 the Willis were menacing and dangerous. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN BALLET PRESENTS GISELLE @ THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

AISTRALIAN BALLET : VERVE @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

A superb triple bill , first performed in Melbourne last year , that showcases the Australian Ballet at its best . The company’s three resident choreographers each present a striking work. All three have been or still are dancers with the company .

First we saw Stephen Bayne’s CONSTANT VARIANTS (2007) using Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. The polished, transparent score is integral to the work and features a ravishing cello solo by Caleb Wong .

Four couples are paired on stage before splitting and reforming in various combinations. All wear dark high cut leotards , the men in sheer dark tops the women in velvety burgundy bodices. Michael Pearce’s set design features oversized segments of picture frames as if at an art gallery, above a rather shadowy lit stage with lighting as devised by Jon Buswell.           Continue reading AISTRALIAN BALLET : VERVE @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

EILEEN: STORIES FROM THE PHILLIP STREET COURTYARD

 

At 104 Eileen Kramer has led an incredible life, some of which is vividly evoked in this book.

Born in Sydney in 1914, Kramer was an original member of Australia’s first modern dance company, the influential Bodenwieser Ballet, and has lived and danced everywhere from India to Paris, London and New York.

Eileen originally wanted to be an opera singer and studied at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. She came to dance relatively late in life, joining the Bodenwieser Ballet company, Australia’s first professional modern dance company, in 1940.

Sue Healey has produced a short film entitled Eileen about Kramer and she is regarded as a National Treasure by the Arts Health Institute .

Kramer left Australia in the 1950s, performing around the world and meeting contemporary artists who have gone down in history as legends – for example Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. In fact,  Armstrong taught her the twist in Paris!

Having travelled around the world for 60 years. Eileen returned to Australia permanently in 2014 at the age of 99. She wanted to hear the sound of a kookaburra and smell the gum trees again.

This is a relatively small book lavishly illustrated with both black and white photos as well as bold, colourful drawings by Kramer.

The book is divided into thirty four chapters, with an introduction by Tracey Spring. Each chapter is about a specific memory of a person or particular event, mainly spanning the five years of her life as a young woman from 1936 to 1940 when she lived at or near Philip St

It is vividly written one feels as if Kramer is talking directly to the reader. The book is beautifully presented and includes a table of contents at the front, as well as a list of photo credits at the back. Sadly there is no index provided at the back.

The many people written about include Rosaleen Norton, who would go on to become the ‘Witch of Kings Cross’, the learned and rather enigmatic Joan, and the beautiful model, Ann. Life in the area is described , and how the cityscape has changed greatly.( Not to mention her battles with bedbugs).

There is also a marvellous word portrait of her landlady and others as well as the homeless men who inhabited the Domain ( the ‘Domain Dossers ‘ ).As well,  there is a segment on her mother working as a store detective at Farmers.

We learn about Kramer’s private life to a degree and her relationships with three men over time in particular – Dr Richard Want , Darley and painter Rah Fizelle.

Kramer became a professional artist’s model, sitting for Norman Lindsey and other modern painters of Sydney. (A glamorous black and white photo is included ).Eileen’s first boyfriend, Dr Want , was a Freudian psychoanalyst and they would spend their Sundays at the Art Gallery of NSW and Speakers Corner at the Domain.

Many dancers and theatre people from the 1930s and 1940s remember Sydney’s Phillip Street as a place where they lived, including ballerina Tamara Tchinarova Finch who lived in a Phillip Street apartment with her mother when they decided to stay in Australia in 1939 after the tour by the Covent Garden Russian Ballet.

Dance lovers will be tantalised by the mentions towards the end of the book about Kramer’s discovery of and work with Bodenweiser … but there is lots more to be said – perhaps expanded into a second book focusing on that major part of her life ? At 104 Kramer is perhaps the longest-working dancer and choreographer in Australia, if not the globe , still going strong and an enormous inspirational force.

https://www.melbournebooks.com.au/products/eileen

Published by Melbourne Books
www.melbournebooks.com.au
B format 139x210mm Hard cover with cloth quarter bind
206 pages colour illustrations throughout
RRP: AUD$39.95 ISBN: 9781925556391

 

SYDNEY DANCE COMPANY JOINS THE MARDI GRAS PARADE

Sydney Dance Company is thrilled to be participating in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade for the first time on Saturday 2nd March.

Sydney Dance Company’s float, Turning 50, in honour of the Company’s 50th anniversary in 2019, features a high energy, tightly rehearsed dance routine with 80 members of Sydney Dance Company’s community, led by Dance Class Manager Ramon Doringo.

Ramon will lead the synchronised marching troupe from the back of a golden Sydney Dance Company Studio float, complete with ballet bar, mirrors and performing drag divas.

Participants will wear gold costumes designed by Aleisa Jelbart that reference our golden 50th anniversary and will be an explosion of gold glitter pom poms and retro styled dance wear as the troupe perform down Oxford Street to the disco beats of DJ Sveta. Continue reading SYDNEY DANCE COMPANY JOINS THE MARDI GRAS PARADE

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

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

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

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

BALLET: THE DEFINITIVE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY – MARVELLOUS

BALLET: THE DEFINITIVE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY. This marvellous book is a rather large and heavy coffee table/reference book that dance lovers will pounce on with delight.

With ballet legend Viviana Durante as Editorial Consultant , the book is divided chronologically into six sections, from the earliest historical performances through to current ones .It is clearly , simply and elegantly presented and lavishly illustrated. We are taken through the history of ballet from the earliest performances (Ballet Comique de la Reine etc ) right through to now with the latest cutting edge works of Christopher Wheeldon and others.It has an international coverage but concentrates on Europe and America.     Continue reading BALLET: THE DEFINITIVE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY – MARVELLOUS

SWAN LAKE ON ICE @ THE CAPITOL THEATRE

 

When an irresistible force converges with its irrepressible match, heaven and earth meet.

Cross classical ballet with figure skating on ice and you get a tantalizing blend. Add some of the most accomplished performers in this seductive genre, and the result is shameless delight.

Swan Lake on Ice, performed on Wednesday 25th July by the Imperial Ice Stars at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, showcased the innovative choreography of Tony Mercer. In the course of developing the company, the Imperial Ice Stars, Mercer had assembled a first class creative team for each production, from such eminent athletes as dual Olympic figure skating gold medallist and four-time World Champion Evgeny Platov, quadruple Olympic gymnastics gold medallist Alexei Nemov, and former ice dancing pairs World Champions Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski. Continue reading SWAN LAKE ON ICE @ THE CAPITOL THEATRE