Music / “The Degenerate and the Fop”. Sarahlouise Owens, soprano; Colleen Rae-Gerrard, piano. At Wesley Music Centre, October 21. Reviewed by TONY MAGEE
SOME of the world’s most outstanding classical ballet dancers have been attracted to Canberra for perhaps the best-kept secret of the year, the “World Superstars of Ballet Gala”.
Presented by newly formed Canberra organisation Bravissimo Productions, this gala is intended to become an annual event. If this standard of guest artist and presentation can be maintained, it’s an ambition that has the potential to attract audiences from all over Australia.
Among the dancers are Australian Ballet principals, Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo; the first American dancer to train and dance with Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet, Joy Womack; 14-year-old, American YouTube sensation, Avery Gay; Cuban dancers, Adiarys Almeida, Taras Domitro and Venus Villa; Florida’s United Ballet Theatre principal dancer and artistic director, Joseph Michael Gatti; the dancer voted “Junior Male Best Dancer” in the 2017 Las Vegas Dance Awards, Tristan Ianiero, and Italian Teatro alla Scala principal, Francesco Daniele Costa.
Given the fame of these dancers and the lack of any indication in the preliminary publicity that this was a local initiative, the impression was that this event was an international tour, rather than a Canberra-only event.
In addition to the guest artists, talented young dancers from around the region, who had participated in two days of intensive master classes before the performance, were showcased in several items. One of these works, “Les Jeunes Danseurs” choreographed by Daniel Convery, provided a charming opening for the performance, featuring junior and senior students neatly performing age-appropriate combinations.
The demanding Act 3 pas de deux from “Sleeping Beauty”, impeccably performed by Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo, provided a dazzling entre into a succession of sensationally performed bravura pas de deux and solos which had the audience whooping with excitement. Later in the program Kondo and Guo gave possibly the best performance of the virtuosic “Le Corsaire Pas de Deux” that this reviewer has had the pleasure of witnessing.
Joy Womack and Francesco Daniele Costa dazzled with their performance of the lilting “Moskovsky Waltz”, and later with a sublime “Romeo and Juliet Balcony Pas de Deux”. Elsewhere in the program Costa performed two very funny solos, “Moscate” and “Le Bourgeois”, which exploited his lanky frame and incredible technique to sensational affect.
Adiarys Almeida and Taras Domitro charmed with their lyrical performance of the “La Bayadere Kingdom of the Shades” pas de deux, and then later turned up the heat with a fiery performance of the “Don Quixote Grand Pas de Deux”. The famous “White Swan” pas de deux from Swan Lake, performed in front of a romantic moon backdrop, was given a lovely performance by Venus Villa and Joseph Gatti, who later demonstrated their versatility in a sparkling performance of the “Pas d’Esclave” from Le Corsaire.
American teenager, Avery Gay thrilled with her amazing flexibility and strength in her famous solo “Shiver”. Later in the program she was joined by Tristan Ianiero for a sensational, acrobatic duo entitled “Talisman”. Ianiero also demonstrated his unique dancing style in a captivating solo, “Requiem”.
Sprinkled through the program were impressively danced works performed by emerging young dancers for whom the opportunity of sharing stage with acclaimed international professionals must have been an invaluable experience. Among them, Soraya Sullivan and Hyo Shimizu, who gave a charming account of the “Flames of Paris” pas de deux and those who danced in Jake Burden’s stylishly choreographed “All Directions” and the “Esmeralda Variation”.