Carmen Sweet

Cremorne Theatre, QPAC (Expressions Dance Company)


Love is a rebellious bird
that nobody can tame.
And it’s all in vain to call it
if it chooses to refuse.
Georges Bizet

In this stirring production not merely one Carmen, but three beguile us! Elise May, Michelle Barnett and Riannon McLean each dance a different aspect of Carmen in the changing mood and mind of this rebellious bird of love. Individually and together they lead us through a fiery, swirling tale of contrasts.

Natalie Weir’s choreography is dramatic and startlingly original. From the very outset, the dancers’ movements entice the audience’s attention in the intimate space of the Cremorne Theatre. Shchedrin’s musical reinterpretation and orchestration of Bizet’s well-known melodies contribute to the zest and raw energy of this piece.

The dark story of jealousy and revenge unfolds as Carmen leaves behind her besotted soldier Don Jose (danced by Jack Zaesing) for the famous matador Escamillo (danced by Benjamin Chapman). The fortune teller (Daryl Brandwood) tries to foretell Carmen’s death from the rage of Don Jose, but to no avail. Natalie Weir’s use of the three female characters of Carmen gives a layered depth to the piece. Elise May, dressed in black, exudes the force of seduction and death. Michelle Barnett’s role displays a cheeky side of Carmen’s nature. A magnificent performance by Riannon McLean brings another dimension, infused with love and passion.

Sadly this is the last season we will see the wonderful Riannon McLean on stage as she “hangs up her dancing shoes”. Brisbane audiences will miss her deeply. Since joining Expressions Dance Company in 2007, Riannon has performed in almost 20 company works, including international tours to China, America, Switzerland, South Korea and Singapore.

It is a huge challenge for any artist to take on a classic such as Carmen and breathe new life into it. Natalie Weir has done just that in this dynamic work of genius.

Choreography and artistic direction: Natalie Weir
Music: Radion Shchedrin, an arrangement for strings and percussion based on the music of Bizet
Designer: Bill Haycock
Lighting Designer: Ben Hugh
Duration: 1 hour
Performances: 31 October to 2 November 2013

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Fri 1st November 2013)