Vis-a-Vis Studio Series

Thomas Dixon Centre (Queensland Ballet)


Close and creative that is the theme of this intimate series in the rehearsal studio of the Queensland Ballet.

Audience members have a privileged chance to sit inside the studio space while the choreography and ideas behind a specific dance scene are explained and then performed. Take, for example, the village wedding scene from the ballet “Peer Gynt” to the music of Edvard Greig. We are treated to the transcendent beauty of the pas de deux of Solveig (Rachael Walsh) and Peer Gynt (Keian Langdon) against a background of the more rudimentary steps danced by villagers members in their nuptial celebrations.

It can be dangerous to see behind the mask of art to the artifice sustaining it but no disappointment lies here. We sit close enough to see not only the apparently effortless lifting and carrying by Langdon of Walsh in their partnering but also the subtle balance and timing of Walsh floating beyond the mechanical pull of gravity.

The theme of “nurturing creativity” is exemplified in works choreographed by current and former dancers of the Queensland Ballet.

“Nara”, a work choreographed by company dancer Teri Crilly, takes us on a thought-provoking, all-female dance expressing hints of worship and the spiritual.

Teri Crilly has long been noted for her comic flair but it is pleasing to see the development of this dimension of her dance career. She also dances the opening piece, the grand pas de deux from Act 2 of Don Quixote with exuberance and grace along with Yu Hui who seems a little less confident in his role.

Love’s delights and angst inspire newly choreographed works by former dancers Martin Collyer (“Winter/Spring”) and Rosetta Cook (“Love Remains”). In the former work, a woman (Lina Kim) performs two pas de deux using the same movement vocabulary to portray very different scenes a bleak wintery scene with Nathan Scicluna and a joyous spring scene with Guy Wheatsone. She achieves this challenging contrast admirably.

Rosetta Cook’s work weaves the lyrical strains of Beethoven’s Adagio Violin Sonata No 6 around a woman (Kathleen Doody) moving to reconcile the three loves of her life (Robert McMillan, Nathan Scicluna and Rian Thompson).

The dancers seem to thrive on performing original new works choreographed by their current and former dancing colleagues. Whatever the mystic source of nurturing creativity may be, it appears alive and well amongst the inspired young men and women of the Queensland Ballet.

Artistic director Franois Klaus gives a short spoken introduction to each piece, putting it into the context of the great choreographers, their respective ballet companies and the development of ideas in dance. His description of his own choreographic ideas behind Don Quixote and Peer Gynt give an insight into the link between ideas and movements.

His work “Maud’s Musings” is an around-the-kitchen-table domestic skirmish between a drunken husband (Blair Wood) and his harried wife Maud (Clare Morehen) trying to stop his boozing. By theatrical magic Clare Morehen appears shortly afterwards to give an equally strong performance in the glamorous role of Kitri in the marketplace scene from Act 1 of Don Quixote. The contrast illustrates that dance is a vehicle for expressing the whole gamut of the human condition, not merely its safe and pastel hues.

This studio series has minimal sets and lighting. It will not suit those who crave lavish, packaged productions. Its intimate setting and explication will be scintillating for those who wrestle with the question posed by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, “How shall we know the dancer from the dance?”.

Choreography: Franois Klaus, Martin Collyer, Teri Crilly and Rosetta Cook
Music by Ludwig Minkus, Edvard Greig, Ezio Bosso, E.S. Posthumus, Tomaso Albinoni, Chris Barner’s Jazzband and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Performances: 27 April to 5 May 2012
Duration: 2 hours and 20 minutes (including a 20 minute interval)

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Fri 27th April 2012)