Dancers light up the stage

31 July 2020

The dancers’ joy at returning to live performance was palpable on opening night of West Australian Ballet’s “Genesis”, writes Nina Levy.

‘Genesis’, West Australian Ballet ·
West Australian Ballet Centre, 30 July ·

Originally scheduled for late March, West Australian Ballet’s “Genesis” was cancelled just weeks from its planned season. It was moving, then, to witness the sheer joy that emanated from the dancers and enveloped the audience, on opening night of the reinstated program of short, dancer-choreographed works.

From the moment the lights went up on Carina Roberts’s Tetrad Animato, that happiness was palpable. Dancers Jesse Homes, Kiki Saito, Glenda Garcia Gomez and Beatrice Manser were effervescent as they rippled, folded and spun their way through this bubbling neoclassical quartet.

Mayume Noguromi and Keigo Muto made a striking couple in Robert Bruist’s Polarity – keep your eye out for these two promising members of the corps de ballet. Bruist’s sculptural duet captures both the angularity and moodiness of the electronic score by Stellar OM Source, for which it is named.

Mayume Noguromi and Keigo Muto in Robert Bruist’s ‘Polarity’. Photo: Frances Andrijich.

The duet that follows, Emma-Rose Barrowclough’s Soul.Lagom, creates a pleasing contrast to the latter, with its wild, almost animalistic quality. Danced with sensuality by Alexa Tuzil and Asja Petrovski, this short contemporary work makes a sharp impression.

A third duet, Chihiro Nomura’s A moment à memory, shifts the mood again, this time into nostalgia. Matthew Lehmann and Glenda Garcia Gomez (in a gorgeous glittery frock) captured the romance of this neoclassical pas de deux, which has the old-worldy-feel of a 1950s Fred-and-Ginger routine.

Uncommon, a contemporary solo by Matej Perunicic, sees a young man transform, Superman style, shaking off the shackles of his suit into movement that rockets through space. It was danced with verve and style by Ludovico Di Ubaldo.

With its three couples, Claire Voss’s A thousand times good night, fills the stage with drama, reflected by the cascading orchestral sounds of Abel Korzeniowski’s composition of the same name. Romeo and Juliet references abound as the three women swirl around their open-shirted partners; their soaring unison duets a highlight of this neoclassical work.

The drama steps up a notch in Matthew Lehmann’s Behind those Beautiful Eyes. The solemn formality of the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No 7 in A Major, Op. 92 makes an appropriate backdrop for a neoclassical pas de deux of love… lost? Betrayed? We don’t know the details but the bloke has definitely made some kind of fatal error. Julio Blanes and Claire Voss made a compelling pair on opening night.

Relationship tensions also inform Adam Alzaim’s where do i begin? Traditionally a favourite “Genesis” choreographer, Alzaim doesn’t disappoint with this latest contemporary duet. Set to Shirley Bassey’s rendition of “Where Do I Begin”, the piece is packed with pop-and-lock details that at once contrast and fill Bassey’s lush vocals. Partnered by the versatile Melissa McCabe, the pair powered through this audience favourite.

Brent Carson in Christian Luck’s ‘Can’t fight this feeling’. Photo: Frances Andrijich

It’s a hard act to follow and Candice Adea’s gentle Litrato (Photo) is, perhaps, not the right programming choice. Nonetheless this brief duet, set to an orchestral arrangement of “Moon River” and danced by Nikki Blain and Asja Petrovski, managed to draw the audience into its sweetly sentimental mood.

Christian Luck’s Can’t fight this feeling provided plenty of athletic and dramatic opportunity for young artist Brent Carson, who tackled the role with aplomb. With an almost Fame-like vibe, at times it’s hard to tell whether this work is meant to be taken completely seriously.

Glenda Garcia Gomez and Julio Blanes in Sandy Delasalle’s ‘Just for Fun’. Photo: Frances Andrijich

The final solo of the evening was a personal favourite, Alumna by Polly Hilton. Performed in a small square of light, the crisp lines and brisk dynamics of this brief work make it a winner. It was beautifully danced by Emma-Rose Barrowclough.

Rounding out the night, WAB Principal Ballet Mistress and Artistic Associate Sandy Delasalle’s Just for Fun is exactly what it says, an ode to the Roaring Twenties that makes for a Charleston-infused, energising finale. Its cast of 12 were delightful to watch on opening night, with special mention to Adam Alzaim and Melissa McCabe who shake something extra into the steps.

While a recording of this program was available to stream online for some months during lockdown, there is an electricity in live performance that the camera lens simply doesn’t transmit. Even if you watched the filmed version, I’d encourage you to snaffle one of the few remaining tickets for this season.

“Genesis LIVE” plays the West Australian Ballet Centre until 8 August 2020.

Pictured top is Ludovico Di Ubaldo in Matej Perunicic’s ‘Uncommon’. Photo: Frances Andrijich.

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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