Tag: Lana Jones

REVIEW: The Australian Ballet Presents PAQUITA and LA SYLPHIDE

Richly romantic

By Jennifer Coles

The Australian Ballet continues to pursue perfection and pure entertainment with each new production they take on. This ‘romantic double bill’ is no exception.  Exquisite and technically masterful, the pairing of Paquita (1847) and La Sylphide (1836) is a wonderful joy to experience.

Kevin-Jackson-and-Madeleine-Eastoe-in-La-Sylphide-Photography-Georges-Antoni-Make-up-by-Napoleon-Perdis

To begin, Paquita as a performance piece (music by Ludwig Minkus, choreographed by Marius Petipa and special note must be made of the grand pas de deux, Leanne Stojmenov and Daniel Gaudiello) made excellent use of the space and was accompanied by a charming, minimalist set. The ensemble moved well together, and were completely dedicated to each gesture and movement. The piece also features a lot of pointe work, which was a treat to watch and relish in.

This elegant professionalism continued throughout the performance of La Sylphide (choreographed by Erik Bruhn after August Bournonville). It tells the tale of James (a young Scottish farmer, preparing for his upcoming wedding), who is distracted by the appearance of a woodland sprite called La Sylphide. After his attempts to catch her are unsuccessful, the fairy disappears. He returns to the wedding and angers the local witch, Madge. However, the reappearance of La Sylphide proves too strong to resist and he follows her into the woods. What follows is an extremely unfortunate set of circumstances brought about by the very witch James just wronged.

The set perfectly created the optimism of a romantic wedding in the first act, and a lovely open woodland in the second. Lighting (William Akers‘ original design, reproduced by Francis Croese) was charming and character-reflective (a nice blue hue spotlight for La Sylphide was a terrific touch), and costumes (designed by Anne Fraser, who also created the set) were of course functional and beautiful. As James, Adam Bull was charismatic, and as La Sylphide, Lana Jones was endearing and elegant. Particular delight was the choreography itself , in which La Sylphide (as had Paquita) made use of the musical phrasing excellently and appropriately. The orchestra was also in fine form, responding well to the artists just as the artists responded to the lush music by Herman Lovenskjold.

The Australian Ballet will no doubt have another successful season with this lovely production. After having the privilege of viewing it, it isn’t hard to see why.

Paquita and La Sylphide will be playing until September 7: tickets bookings can be made online.

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REVIEW: The Australian Ballet Presents VANGUARD

Mesmerising modern ballet reaches new audiences

By Ross Larkin

Few art forms command the same degree of discipline as that of dance. The absence of external tools, leaving solely the body as instrument, requires as much stability and fine-tuning as any solidly, hand-crafted alternative. The commitment is therefore not only a full-time one, but one which must be lived and breathed.

Vanguard

The Australian Ballet showcase this lifestyle to its full extent in their current production of Vanguard at the State Theatre. Three strikingly different pieces are presented back to back by highly accomplished choreographers George Balanchine, Jiri Kylian and Wayne McGregor with a beautifully, flawless outcome.

Opening with ‘The Four Temperaments’, originally choreographed by George Balanchine, performers are exposed under a stark, white light for the duration, with no external theatrical aids, save for the varied and glorious accompanying Orchestra Victoria. Viewers are hard-pressed to withdraw focus from the dancers’ palpable control and beautiful unity displayed with seemingly effortless execution.

Second offering, ‘Bella Figura’, raises the bar to stunning and mesmerising heights that impact the audience almost conspicuously. Rarely does one witness such effortless command of an audience’s attention. The moments of stillness and silence were breathtaking and captivating, and, unlike its predecessor, dramatic lighting and clever use of external elements were present in abundance, with particularly intriguing use of stage curtains.

The poignant direction of Kylian’s choreography encapsulated tasteful eroticism and tenderly seductive bodily engagement throughout, with unexpected comical moments in the form of puppetry dance.

Third piece, ‘Dyad 1929’, faces the challenge of following the former spectacular act, and initially feels slightly random and less focused, as the ensemble move frenziedly about a black polka-dot background to jarring, discordant music. Further into McGregor’s piece, however, the focus materialises with spirited passion and the gorgeously fluid dance proves as striking as its cousins, climaxing with the first male interaction of the evening.

The entire ensemble of Vanguard, each present for all acts, are graceful and flawless. Daniel Gaudiello, Lana Jones, Miwako Kubota and Calvin Hannaford leave impacting and lasting impressions, though every performer is worthy of mention.

Powerful and accessible, the Australian Ballet’s production of Vanguard is an experience deserving of a universal audience, and succeeds in moving viewers across all emotions.

Vanguard is playing now at the Arts Centre’s State Theatre with Orchestra Victoria until June 17, 2013