George Balanchine’s 1947 ballet Symphony in C may well be the drawcard for audiences for the Australian Ballet’s latest six-act bill, but the legendary late Russian-born choreographer may not be name on everyone’s lips as they leave.
On opening night on Friday, applause erupted for a very different style of choreography, by Australian Alice Topp, and the tenth performance of her contemporary piece Little Atlas.
Topp is one of the company’s own dancers, and has been developing the choreographic arm of her career for a number of years. With Little Atlas, she creates innovative movements coupled with modern sentiment, resulting in a unique style of dance that accurately speaks of life today. It explores the idea of an ‘atlas’ of memory – what we highlight, what we come back to, and what we choose to forget.
The short work featured three dancers, Leanne Stojmenov, Kevin Jackson and Andrew Killian. Wearing minimalist costumes (a black leotard with cut outs for Stojmenov and fitted black pants for the men), they artfully tangled and untangled their bodies under a striking ring of light. It was performed to Ludovico Einaudi’s score, Fly and Experience, sensitively performed by pianist Brian Cousins.
But this was not the only highlight of the program. The audience was left gasping by the dynamic dancer Chengwu Guo. In Agrippina Vaganova’s 1935 pas de deux Diana and Aceton, he performed gravity defying leaps and and turns that appeared endless. Partner Ako Kondo matched his brilliance, displaying impeccable balance and control in the extraordinarily difficult work.
Other moments for the memory book were the voluminous red dress designed by Kat Chan worn in Richard House’s From Silence; the impeccable ‘double fouettes’ (whipping turns on one leg) performed by Lana Jones in Viktor Gsovsky’s Grand pas Classique; and the subtle yet powerful feminine charm exuded by Robyn Hendricks in Stephen Baynes’ serene, Imaginary Masque.
Symphony in C featured a vast cast of dancers all dressed in classic white tutus or tights, displaying the prim upper-body carriage of mid-20th century Russian dancers.
With six Principal Artists fronting the corps de ballet, the group matched the precision required of Balanchine’s choreography with its countless turns, changes of direction, high lifts and energetic group work.
Three large and decadent chandeliers by set designer Tom Lingwood hung from the ceiling, adding an extra touch of sparkle to an already shining night of dance.
Symphony in C is at the Arts Centre Melbourne until September 2