The Masters Series

QPAC Playhouse (Queensland Ballet)

This trifecta of short ballets has more winning surprises than the recent federal election.

The ethereal feminine beauty in George Balanchine’s choreography of Serenade contrasts with the horrors of war through the eyes of young male warriors in Jiri Kylian’s Soldier’s Mass. These two works pivot about a celebration of pop culture with a jazz twist in Trey McIntyre’s The Shadows Behind Us.

Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major  provides a rich musical context for Balanchine’s homage to three romantic ballet heroines from ballets Giselle, Swan Lake  and The Sleeping Beauty. Laura Hidalgo stars in a pas de deux with Kohei Iwamoto. Balanchine’s style (New York out of St Petersburg) demands a fluidity of elbows and wrists which the corps de ballet dancers express with consummate grace. The Queensland Ballet has a skillset truly of international standard.  Artistic Director Li Cunxin rightly describes it as one of the leading ballet companies of the Asia-Pacific.

The simple, gorgeous, pale blue costumes and minimalist set assist the dancers to rise from romantic tragedy to transcendent neoclassical beauty.

Brisbane hosts the world premiere of Trey McIntyre’s The Shadows Behind Us  set to familiar pop songs such as I Wish I Knew and Unchained Melody. Mia Heathcote embodies the soaring spirit of the pop classic Our Day Will Come  in her pas de deux with David Power: 

Our day will come
And we’ll have everything
We’ll share the joy 
Falling in love can bring

Heathcote’s magnificent, uplifting dance makes us believe that “our dreams have magic because we’ll always stay in love this way”. Trey McIntyre’s  choreography brings classical and popular culture together in a fresh and vibrant way.

The third work is different indeed. All-male ballets are rare. In Jiri Kylian’s Soldier’s Mass 12 men express the camaraderie of soldiers under fire and the military power of cohesion. The liturgical dance music of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu reminds us of how central and eastern Europeans have suffered through war yet forged something fine. During the  Kyrie eleison/ Christe eleison (“Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy”) one is left to wonder whether this is horror or worship? Perhaps these young, brave soldiers took solace from the sentiment later sung by the tragic genius Amy Whitehouse and performed so brilliantly by Mia Heathcote:

Our day will come (our day will come)
If we just wait a while
No tears for us (no tears for us)
Think love and wear a smile.
Choreographer: George Balanchine
Composer: Pyotor Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Costume designer: Karinska
Stager: Jerri Kumery
The Shadows Behind Us
Choreographer: Trey McIntyre 
Music: Jimmy Scott
Costume and set designer: Thomas Mike
Lighting designer: Ben Hughes
Soldier’s Mass
Choreographer: Jiri Kylian
Composer: Bohuslav Martinu
Costume and set designer: Jiri Kylian
Lighting designer: Kees Tjebbes
Duration: 2 hours and 15 minutes with two 20-minute intervals

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Tue 21st May 2019)

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