The Queensland’s Ballet production of “With Attitude 2008” contains bold explorations of the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and a dazzling contemporary work “Timeless Dances” based around the sun goddess waking different forms of life frozen in the earth.
The first piece is based on the tragic love story of Orpheus, unable to deal with the grief of the death of his wife Eurydice on their wedding night. He is led to the Underworld by a weeping angel who is moved by his sadness and his music.
The choreography by Queenslander, Natalie Weir, is rich in ideas and breathtakingly beautiful. She is truly one of the world’s great choreographers, having trained at the Ann Roberts School of Dance in Townsville and been a founding member of Expressions Dance Company in Brisbane.
Orpheus is danced strongly by Nathan Sciculuna. He is transported on a large lyre by the Weeping Angel danced with grace by Claire Morehen. Natalie Weir’s magical choreography gives one a sense not only of a journey into death but somehow a journey towards rebirth. Classical simplicity is reflected in Noelene Hill’s evocative set and costume design.
Orpheus is a musician who uses the power of his music (courtesy of Igor Stravinsky) to persuade the King of the Dead, Hades that Eurydice’s life be restored. Hades’ one condition is that Orpheus walk in front of his wife and not look back on his journey to the living world. Sadly, Orpheus fails to do this and Eurydice is doomed to a second death.
Similar profound themes of death and rebirth are explored in the second work “Timeless Dances” choreographed by Queensland Ballet’s artistic director Francois Klaus.
The music is composed and performed by celebrated didgeridoo player William Barton. He is assisted in performance by a string quartet led ably by the Queensland Orchestra’s Warwick Adeney. Barton’s music is inspirational. The audience heaped applause on him at the conclusion. Recently returned from performing in the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing, Barton brings together the virtuosity of the didgeridoo and the richness of Australian culture.
The cycles of sun and moon provide a backdrop for the Queensland Ballet dancers to weave their spell, drawing on both indigenous and western traditions.
It is very heartening to see the fresh, creative approach to dance being adopted by this company. They show profound respect for tradition and discipline but are not afraid to be bold and innovative. Through the beauty of their art they take us, as the weeping angel took Orpheus, on a journey into another world of meaning just beyond our imagination.
Music by Igor Stravinsky
Choreographed by Natalie Weir
Featuring William Barton (didgeridoo)
Music by William Barton
Choreographed by Francois Klaus
Playing 19-26 September 2008