Review / Swans get a surprising and beautiful reboot

Dance / “Arche’”. Melbourne Ballet Company. Concept and Direction by Simon Hoy. At the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre until August 26. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS


Alexander Baden Bryce and Kristy Lee Denovan in “Arche'”.

WITH their production of “Arche’”, Melbourne Ballet Company has come up with a delightfully quirky antidote for those dance devotees who feel that maybe they’ve seen enough versions of “Swan Lake” to last a lifetime, as well as a tantalising evening of captivating dance for those who’ve not yet experienced “Swan Lake”.

Choosing the Greek word relating to the beginning or source of the action, to provide the title and the key, and working with a cast of just nine superb dancers, choreographers Simon Hoy and Timothy Podesta have followed the basic storyline of “Swan Lake”, while refocusing the familiar story.

The central figure is now Von Rothbart, danced with commanding malevolence by Alexander Baden Bryce, and among his bevy of swan maidens is Odette/Odile (Kristy Lee Denovan), who captures the heart of the handsome Prince Siegfried (Michael Braun) and provides him with his “Specsaver” moment at the end of the ballet.

Those familiar with “Swan Lake” will enjoy the many references to the original, especially the re-invented dance for the four cygnets and the entrance of the swans in Act II. But the choreographers have not confined themselves to “Swan Lake”, cheekily including references to “The Dying Swan”, and even the Greek myth, “Leda and the Swan”, to create imaginative sequences danced to interpolations of music from a variety of composers in addition to the familiar Tchaikovsky

The broad, sweeping choreography is idiosyncratic, constantly surprising, and often very beautiful, with lovely long lines interrupted unexpectedly with bent knees, feet and wrists. Especially memorable are the Grecian-inspired dance for the ballroom guests and the sequence in which four swans create remarkable shapes while preening themselves on the lake. The spectacular lifts and inventive floor work was impeccably executed by all the dancers, who perform in an uncluttered setting of evocative projections, wearing provocative, whimsical costumes which perfectly suited the mood of the piece.

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