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Reviews/Ballet/Dance

West Australian Ballet’s ‘Genesis’ – short, sharp and shiny

31 March 2022

Pleasingly diverse, there’s something for everyone in WA Ballet’s latest season of dancer-choreographed works, says Kim Balfour.

‘Genesis’, West Australian Ballet ·
West Australian Ballet Centre, Studio 1, 29 March 2022 ·

Romantic duets are big feature of West Australian Ballet’s latest season of “Genesis”. This annual choreographic petri dish of creativity and personal soul-searching gives the company’s dancers a chance to flex their choreographic muscles. This year’s cohort of choreographers have produced ten short, sharp, shiny works, with a few of them surely bound for the main stage.

Performed at the company’s rehearsal studios, “Genesis” is unlike a typical visit to the theatre, providing a far more intimate dance experience. The audience can see every muscle and sinew seemingly defy the natural laws of physics, while also being immersed in the internal emotional world of the dancers.

The intimate studio space is a perfect environment for some of the more subtle works on display. Polly Hilton’s ambient and hauntingly melancholic Frames of Loss is a tender duet focused on grief and isolation, employing some inventive lighting design. Jack Whiter’s laid-back romantic bluesy duet, Romance In The Dark, is a cruisy interlude. The theatrical aesthetic of Adam Alzaim’s Balloon Dog also works well in close quarters, as we are invited to empathise with three highly expressive Pierrot-like mime clowns.

Three dancers in Pierrot clown suits perform break-dance like poses.
Matej Perunicic, Ludovico Di Ubalo and Kymberleigh Krzysztofiak-Cowley are highly expressive in Adam Alzaim’s ‘Balloon Dog’. Photo: Bradbury Photography

Matej Perunicic’s beautifully performed duet, My Soul For You – one of my favourites – is a sophisticated and elegantly constructed duet, an abstract study of love and affection. Perunicic also composed and produced the score, which provides the name of the work.

The evening featured numerous punchy works, such as Claire Voss’s The Nymphs of Diana. A “Genesis” veteran, Voss once again has channelled the raw power, precision and inspirational energy of her all-female cast. Matthew Lehmann’s Radiate begins languidly and seductively, and ends with a high energy ensemble frenzy. Considering bygone days, Chihiro Nomura’s brightly-performed vintage romance duet, Loretta, is a heaving bundle of unbridled passion. Kymberleigh Krzysztofiak-Cowley’s Yesterday Is Not Today is another wild high-impact ride, featuring a score that throws back to 80s sci-fi, coupled with primal physicality and heart-in-mouth partnering.

A pair of WA ballet dancers - he holds her waist, she holds her arms open as she extends one leg in front of her. She is smiling ecstatically.
A heaving bundle of unbridled passion: Nikki Blain and Jack Whiter in Chihiro Nomura’s ‘Loretta’. Photo: Bradbury Photography

Nikki Blain’s A Restless Ocean and Jessy Chraibi’s Symphony in ‘F’ are the most traditionally neoclassical and classical works of the evening. Both feature highly technical sequences performed with great capacity and virtuosity, while choreographically adhering to time-honoured classical ballet structure and composition. Blain’s dappled lighting, moody score and dynamic choreography reflect the unpredictability of our inner oceans of complex human emotion. Symphony in ‘F’ is a solid pas de deux that will delight those looking for a more traditional classical fix.

At the conclusion of the performance, the audience was rewarded with insight into the choreographic process during a post-performance Q&A session. Some choreographers referenced vulnerable moments in their lives as inspiration, others were initially inspired by a piece of music they loved, while others still used themes of longing and isolation experienced as a dancer during the COVID pandemic.

In its entirety, this year’s “Genesis” program has provided an enjoyable taster of what’s on the minds of the company’s talented and passionate choreographers. The ten works exhibit enough diversity of theme, movement, sound and emotion to keep any audience invested and engaged.

“Genesis” continues until 2 April 2022.

Pictured top: Claire Voss in Matthew Lehmann’s ‘Just Radiate’, which ends in high energy frenzy. Photo: Bradbury Photography

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Author —
Kim Balfour

Kim Balfour is writer and former professional dancer, who has danced with companies such as WA Ballet and Sydney Dance Company. Kim has worked as a freelance writer for over 15 years, including the role of dance writer for The West Australian newspaper. In 2020, Kim was selected as a writer-in-residence at the Centre for Stories, and is currently writing a work of creative nonfiction on gender identity and expression in dance. As a child Kim was sometimes seen sitting on a gently spinning playground carousel, deep in thought, staring at her feet as they dragged along the ground.

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