Review / Warm welcome for ballet’s distinctive debut

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Melbourne Dance Company dancers performing in Divenire.
Melbourne Dance Company dancers performing in “Divenire”.
THOUGH established 10 years, and its resident choreographer Simon Hoy a former Canberran, this is the first visit by the Melbourne Ballet Company to the Canberra region.

To introduce his company of 10 superb dancers, Hoy has devised a program of three relatively short abstract works, two choreographed by himself and the other by Timothy Harbour, which was presented under the umbrella title of “Divenire”, loosely translated as “to become”, and which is also the title of the first work.

Performed to a languidly beautiful piano composition by Italian composer, Ludovico Einaudi,  “Divenire” commences with a lone dancer on stage. As she moves slowly across the stage she is joined by two other female dancers and together they perform a series of gently intertwining enchainments, which gradually resolve into lyrical poses.

Eventually, two male dancers join them and, as the music gathers momentum, graceful lifts are incorporated to create an exquisite atmosphere in which the movement of the dancers seems totally dictated by the music. Short diaphanous smocks over flesh-coloured tights for the girls and neat trunks and tops for the men perfectly complemented the mood of piece, as did the moody, dappled side lighting.

Samuel Harett-Walsh performing with the company in“Zealots”
Samuel Harnett-Welk performing with the company in“Zealots”
Timothy Harbour’s aggressive choreography for “Zealots”, also performed by five dancers costumed dramatically in clinging, bright yellow costumes and black footwear, occupying a harshly lit, white-hot stage, provided a startling contrast. Responding to a pumping mechanical score by John Adams, the intricate contemporary movement style cleverly exploited the strong classical technique of the dancers, perhaps best demonstrated in a riveting virtuoso solo for Samuel Harnett-Welk.

For the final work for the program, “Lucidity”, Hoy drew his inspiration from Picasso’s famous mural “Guernica” to explore notions suggested by the transmission of light. Presented in four sections, to music by Olafur Arnalds and Max Richter, with an ever-changing background of projected swirling images of an abstract universe, this work was notable for the elegance of the movement and for two memorable pas de deux, one gently sensuous and superbly executed by Jo Lee and Alexander Baden Bryce, and a strong male pas de deux for Baden Bryce and Samuel Harnett-Welk.

Given the enthusiastic reception by the first-night audience to their meticulously presented program, it is hoped that the Melbourne Ballet Company, with its distinctive repertoire, superb dancers and elegant style will be destined to become a much-anticipated visitor to the Canberra region.

“Divenire” will be given two more performances at the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre today at 2pm and 8pm. 



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