Playhouse (Queensland Ballet)

No art form can survive by merely clinging to the classics of yesteryear. The Queensland Ballet’s production of Raw, three contemporary  short ballets, speaks to today’s world, its beauty and abominations. The production is dynamic and thought-provoking. It is indeed raw.

Liam Scarlett’s choreography of “No Man’s Land”, set to the music of Franz Liszt, reflects the heartache of war. It is inspired by the centenary of World War I. Seven couples weave out their destinies as the women work in a munitions factory at home and the men endure battle in the trenches. Laura Hidalgo and Rian Thompson dance with the pathos of  a loving couple split asunder by the war of nations. Teri Crilly expresses poignantly that the course of true love never did run smooth.

If the chant-like music of Phillip Glass appeals to your sensibilities, then the “Glass Concerto” choreographed by Greg Horsman is for you. Even if you are unfashionable enough not to like Glass’s music, the sheer energy and brilliance of Yanela Pinera’s pirouettes excites and delights. Tamara Hanton shows intensity and emotional depth. The minimalist, swimsuit-like costumes designed by George Wu lend physicality to this piece.

“Ghost Dancers” reflects the horrors of the Pinochet coup in Chile. It could equally relate to events in many other countries, whether in South America, in the “Arab spring” or elsewhere thought the world. Christopher Bruce’s choreography puts three ghosts in power to cause misery and devastation. In one moving scene the beauty and innocence of Teri Crilly’s dance is overwhelmed by the sinister force of the ghosts, ending with her prostrate as the ghost’s dark hand covers her face to snuff out life. Clare Morehen dances superbly in this challenging work.

On occasions the recorded music was a bit too loud and hence distracting.

Sadly, your reviewer witnessed the final performance of the legendary Clare Morehen with the Queensland Ballet. Fortunately, she will still delight audiences in contemporary dance. Clare Morehen has entranced Queensland and international audiences for years with her virtuosity and dramatic range. A heartfelt standing ovation from the Playhouse audience reflected the respect and affection Clare has inspired in lovers of ballet.

Artistic director: Li Cunxin

Choreographers: Liam Scarlett,Greg Horsman and Christopher Bruce

Music: Franz Liszt, Phillip Glass

Performances: 17 March to 25 March 2017

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes with two intervals


— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Sat 25th March 2017)

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