Dance, Music, News, Reviews

Navigating an uncertain path

Review: Strut Dance and Tura New Music, “In Situ 2019” ·
Cyril Jackson Senior Campus, 6 November ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

I’ve always loved the premise of “In Situ”. An annual program of site-specific works by Perth-based independent choreographers and composers, “In Situ” has taken audiences on adventures through various local buildings since its 2014 premiere in Uncle Joe’s Mess Hall (a café-cum-barbershop in the Perth CBD), including Fremantle Arts Centre (2015), the State Theatre Centre of WA (2016), St George’s Cathedral (2017) and East Perth’s Girls School creative precinct (2018).

Curated by Serena Chalker and Geordie Crowley with Daisy Saunders, this year’s program has moved further east again, to Cyril Jackson Senior Campus in Bassendean. And that’s not the only thing that’s different.

Until now, the basic formula for “In Situ” has remained the same: a walking tour of the venue, with different works presented in different (and sometimes surprising) locations.

The twist this year is that punters are not guided from work to work but are free to wander the venue. It’s not often that we get to view dance installation-style and, personally, I enjoy choosing how much time to spend with each work. So I approached the preview of “In Situ” with interest.

On arrival at the season’s preview, audience members were presented with a program, the cover of which is a map of the venue. The school gates were opened and we were released into the school grounds.

As one the audience headed to the first visible performance (Roam, by choreographer Scott Galbraith and composer Alexander Turner) at the end of an outdoor walkway, but as I was at the back of the pack, I couldn’t see. I looked around but there were no other signs of life, only dimly lit school buildings. I consulted my map but wasn’t sure where I was in relation to the five marked performance spaces.

With guidance I found my way to another vantage point but that feeling of confusion – and anxiety about possibly missing key elements of the five works – remained with me. My anxiety heightened when I realised (about halfway through the program!) that, contrary to my assumption that all works would be running continuously, there was a running order and, in some cases, the works only ran for a short period of time. I was filled with sudden horror that I may have missed a work entirely.

Post-show, I wonder if the uncertainty I experienced is intended by the curatorial team, given that the works themselves all have a mysterious, even discomforting quality.

A man holds a water balloon to his head. he is bathed in sunlight.
Ritualistic: Scott Galbraith in ‘Roam’. Photo: Emma Fishwick

Though I missed the opening of Roam (performed by Galbraith and Turner), I enjoyed the almost ritualistic way Galbraith navigates and handles the many greyscale water balloons that frame the work. When he flung one to meet its watery end against the brick wall of a classroom, a fellow audience member remarked with a sigh, “Deeply satisfying.”

The second work I came upon was All Hit Radio FM, by choreographer Joshua Pether and composer Dane Yates. This work sees “the spirit of Bassendean” (dancer Nadia Martich) waft and wend her way – not aimlessly but perhaps endlessly – between translucent sheets that, on Wednesday night, billowed like ghosts in the night-time breeze.

A dancer pressed up against a translucent sheet
Nadia Martich as ‘the Spirit of Bassendean’ in ‘All Hit FM Radio’. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

Moving around a corner I saw clusters of audience members, donning headphones and peering into the windows of the Artshouse. Inside was Preparations for the future and other catastrophic events, by choreographer Michelle Aitken with performers Mitchell Aldridge and Jessie Camilleri-Seeber, and composer Rebecca Riggs-Bennett. Here, two dancers power through a studio space; eddying and falling as though caught in a slipstream. Viewers choose between two sound channels; though I only experienced each briefly it seemed that one was driving, the other more meditative, and it was interesting to witness the way the different soundscapes affected the mood of this dynamic work. But all too soon it was over – it seemed I had arrived well into the piece’s duration.

Hoping for more I waited at the Artshouse, in case the dancers returned. By the time I ventured to the carpark, where a performer (Turner) encased in another translucent sheet careered inside a circle of fairy lights, that work – Turner’s rerail – was almost finished too.

Two men stand facing one another. One clasps the other's face.
Yvan Karlsson and Tao Issaro make a magical team in ‘fired but not yet glazed’. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

And so to fired but not yet glazed, created and performed by choreographer Yvan Karlsson and composer Tao Issaro. Unlike the rest of the program, the audience was ushered into the performance space – a ceramic studio – so all saw this compelling work in its entirety. Exploring ideas about facing the world when one feels not yet completely grown-up or “glazed”, this work is a gorgeous melange of clay on skin, of sinuous, sinewy movement; coupled with a delicious score of live-performed vocals and percussion played on a mix of found and traditional instruments, mixed with recorded sounds. As both creators and performers Issaro and Karlsson make a magical team.

It’s pleasing to see the curatorial team experimenting with the format of “In Situ”, and the program is worth catching, but at the preview I felt that more guidance or information would have been beneficial for audience members.

“In Situ” runs until November 9.

Pictured top are Jessie Camilleri-Seeber and Mitchell Aldridge in ‘Preparations for the future and other catastrophic events’. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

Please follow and like us:
Dance, Features, News

Dance in vast spaces

Choreographer Brooke Leeder isn’t afraid to go big, and her new work RADAR – which will premiere as part of the Fremantle Biennale – is no exception, discovers Millie Hunt*.

Brooke Leeder

Brooke Leeder’s most recent undertaking, RADAR, sees her at the helm of a cast which incorporates the talents of professional dancers as well as a youth ensemble from John Curtin College of the Arts (JCCA), plus composer Louis Frere-Harvey and lighting designer Nemo Gandossini-Poirie. RADAR premieres November 21, inside Fremantle’s iconic B-Shed, a massive space that Leeder plans to reinvigorate with contemporary dance.

In RADAR Leeder explores sound and the way it triggers human movement. “There’s an unspoken understanding that we universally respond to auditory cues,” she observes. “Sounds incite movement, but also signal different things to different people. I’m interested in human movement en masse, exploring how large-scale responses can be evoked through specific noises.”

Leeder’s decision to use a youth ensemble from JCCA alongside a cast of professional dancers was both practical and artistic. “It really stemmed from the idea of wanting mass movement, as well as having this double alignment with the whole concept of the 2019 Fremantle Biennale,” she explains “The overarching concept for this year’s Biennale program is ‘undercurrent’, and I thought, ‘It just works.’ It’s the undercurrents, it’s the under the surface, it’s the youth that are coming in to the industry and how we are revealing the way industry works for these young people.”

This is not the first time Leeder has tackled an unconventional venue, and also not the first time that space has been huge. Last year she presented Structural Dependency in PS Art Space, a 1900s warehouse that has been converted into a gallery and performance space. Both the B Shed and PS Art Space provide much more room to move than a traditional stage, so what draws Leeder to working in these massive spaces?

“I have really liked presenting works in these unconventional spaces,” she replies. “My very first full-length work was also at PS Art Space but in a quarter of the space. So then when I presented Structural Dependency I thought, ‘Okay, now I’m going to take on the whole space.’ It was the challenge of, ‘How I can take a massive amount of space and make it feel intimate for the audience?’ It also interests me how the performers are actually dancing on the same ground as the audience – it’s exciting to be able to bring people into such close proximity in such a vast space.

That sense of vastness will extend beyond the B-Shed – Leeder plans to open the shed’s doors, so that the harbour, the sun setting and ships passing become the backdrop to the work. “When approaching RADAR in the B-Shed it’s still about creating intimacy in such a large space, but also the challenge of having the vastness of the harbour,” she reflects.  “The space is 22 metres long. How do you open out a space like that and draw the audience in at the same time? It’s a challenge.”

Like Structural Dependency, RADAR is being made in collaboration with composer Louis Frere-Harvey and lighting designer Nemo Gandossini-Poirie. “Louis is composing the music in the room at the same time [as I’m choreographing the work with the dancers]. There are times when it’s really easy – we call it ‘staying in our lane’. Louis will be doing the music, I’ll be choreographing, the dancers are doing the dancing, and we’re all heading towards this common goal,” explains Leeder. “We’ve been working on how we can have rhythms of movement, the same way that there are rhythms of music. When working with the youth ensemble we decided never to do [the traditional counting] ‘5, 6, 7, 8’ – we are always trying to learn the movement through its rhythm, which has been really really interesting.”

Leeder has also recently established her own dance company, Brooke Leeder & Dancers, a move that reflects the interactive nature of her work. “It’s about recognising that I can’t do my job without dancers,” she explains. “But it’s also Brooke Leeder & Creatives, Brooke Leeder & Supporters, Brooke Leeder & Sponsors, Brooke Leeder & Audiences, I can’t do my job without these groups. That’s where the company came from, to bring people in to what I am doing. I didn’t want to be a solo individual. It’s me saying, I am doing this with you.”

RADAR premieres at the B-Shed in Fremantle, 21-24 November.

* Millie Hunt is a third year dance student at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, on secondment with Seesaw during November.

Pictured top is Lilly King (centre) with the ‘RADAR’ ensemble. Photo: D. Wright.

Please follow and like us:
2 actors wearing red and white against red and white background
Calendar, Dance, December 19, November 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre/Dance: Bang! Bang!

26 Nov – 14 Dec @ The Blue Room Theatre ·
Presented by The Blue Room Theatre, Scott Elstermann &
Shona Erskine ·

Murder, melodrama and Wes Anderson combine in this theatrical dance double-header. Act 2, Scenes 1-4 is a mischievous take on Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel by Pina Bausch fellow Scott Elstermann. A visually striking crime caper, we are swept into a world of saturated colour, playful movement and sinister murder.

Gunshots at a ball, evil stepmothers and town gossip feed into a melodrama of three Australian women doing what they had to do. Love You, Stranger is a deliciously fascinating exploration of true crimes and true love, by Shona Erskine.

Two world premieres that will have you reconsidering what you thought about contemporary dance.

More info
W: blueroom.org.au/events/bang-bang/
E:  info@blueroom.org.au

Pictured: Bang! Bang! Credit:Anthony Tran

Please follow and like us:
2 contemporary dancers
Calendar, Dance, Featured, November 19, Performing arts

Dance: And Then Some

13 – 16 November @ State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by STRUT Dance and State Theatre Centre of WA ·

An exhilarating evening of contemporary dance made in WA. Provocative, bold and sassy, And Then Some, showcases a double bill of daring and devil-may-care dance, served up to you by two of Australia’s finest young makers Lewis Major and Scott Ewen.

For four shows only, high-octane moves collide with dark comedy in the Studio Underground of the State Theatre Centre – the home of contemporary dance in WA.

More info
W: www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/and-then-some/
E:  marketing@ptt.wa.gov.au

Please follow and like us:
Split image of woman on either side of a pole against tree background
Calendar, Dance, Music, November 19, Performing arts

Dance, Music: 歸屬 Gui Shu (Belong)

12 – 16 November @ Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) ·
Presented by Steamworks Arts ·

World Premiere | Presented by PICA and Performing Lines WA

Through your eyes, I see myself 透過你的雙眼, 我領悟了自己
Come on a contemplative journey through the streets, suburbs and open spaces of Taipei and Perth. Devised by an extraordinary interdisciplinary team, each performance of 歸屬 Gui Shu (Belong) fuses dance, music, sound and video projections live on stage. The result of a 4-year intercultural exchange, this moving new work by Steamworks Arts asks how our understanding of self and home are shaped by our experiences with others.

歸屬 Gui Shu (Belong) is an invitation to reflect on moments of isolation, connection and finding your way.

VIDEO INSTALLATION
22 October – 22 December
PICA Reading Room
Duration: 8 minutes
View the 歸屬 Gui Shu (Belong) video installation, a sweeping history of the project so far, featuring scenes from Taiwan and Western Australia.

More info
W: pica.org.au/show/-gui-shu-belong/
E:  info@pica.org.au

Pictured: Gui Shu: Image by Christophe Canato. Design by Tim Meakins.

Please follow and like us:
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Team Tetris firing on all four

AWESOME Review: Arch 8, Tetris ⋅
Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, October 8 ⋅
Review by David Zampatti ⋅

I can’t claim I’m familiar with Tetris, despite its status as one of the greatest of all video games since the Russian Alexey Pajitnov completed it in 1984, when many of the parents of the kids in the audience at PICA hadn’t been born.

I do know Rubik’s Cube, though, and Twister, and Stack, and all the other games the strong, agile, funny and empathetic dancers Ivan Ugrin, Paulien Truijen, Lorenzo Capodieci and Zahira Suliman from Erik Kaiel’s Dutch company Arch 8 have brought to this year’s Awesome Festival.

The four performers (who I suspect the kids will remember, Wiggles style, as the Orange One, the Green One, the Red One and the Blue One) work their bodies through intricate recreations of the games, like organisms that fit together and break – or slide – apart.

The technical skill and the load-bearing strength of all four is remarkable. Even the hops that propel them from set-up to set-up on the bare black stage remind me of excruciating hours of judo classes at the YMCA of my childhood.

Kaiel’s choreography is tight as a drum, with an energy bordering on violent, and the kids and their wranglers were spellbound.

Even when some of them got just a little twitchy during the concluding Rubik’s Cube routine, it was soon forgotten as the performers ran and clambered amok through the audience and then led most of them onstage for a exuberant all-in finale.

Tetris is a blast!

Tetris is on each day at 1pm until October 11.

Read an interview with the Awesome Festival’s artistic director Jenny Simpson.

Photo: Didier Philspart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
Sara Ouwendyk as Grandma with Emma-Rose Barrowclough as Peter with Mayume Noguromi as the Bird watching on. Photo by Scott Dennis
Classical music, Dance, News, Reviews, story telling

Inspiring the next generation

AWESOME Review: West Australian Ballet, Peter and the Wolf ⋅
Perth Cultural Centre, October 5 ⋅
Review by Amy Wiseman ⋅

It is always a thrill to see a buzzing young crowd gather for an outdoor performance, particularly the morning after one of Perth’s vicious spring storms almost blew the temporary stage over.

Thankfully the weather cleared for the opening of West Australian Ballet’s Peter and the Wolf, a short symphonic story ballet presented to the next generation of ballet fans through a collaboration with AWESOME Arts Festival. This work serves the dual purpose of introducing children to the instruments of the orchestra as well as telling a cautionary fairy tale of bravery and vigilance.

Opening the performance is a short divertissement that displays the dancers’ technical skill and reinforces to the young audience that although we’re about to enter a fairy tale world, the dancers themselves are not to be feared. The cast, a selection of WAB’s corps de ballet and young artists, perform Andries Weidemann’s neat, complex choreography with aplomb.

The story itself unfolds – quite literally – in the form of a pop-up story book, in which characters are introduced in turn and adorn themselves with an additional costume piece, accompanied by a particular orchestral instrument. Design graduate Maeli Cherel’s clever sets and costumes are intricate yet functionally designed, with the potential for future touring.

Michael Brett’s arrangement of Prokofiev’s original score for Perth Symphony Orchestra is superb, but the highlight of this iteration is Julia Moody’s narration, her mellow, gravelly tones exuding warmth and character in spades.

Mayume Noguromi as the Bird with Kassidy Thompson as the Cat and Emma-Rose Barrowclough as Peter copy
Mayume Noguromi as the Bird with Kassidy Thompson as the Cat and Emma-Rose Barrowclough as Peter. Photo: Scott Dennis.

Though each character danced beautifully it was corps de ballet member Mayume Noguromi who shone as the Bird, with twinkling footwork and ethereal lightness.

The young cast felt a little too reserved for this style of performance, where exaggerated mime and facial expression are a must to establish the story. Weidemann’s musicality and penchant for comedy, however, proved entertaining in the main.

An engaging performance aside, the wonderful thing about this collaboration is the opportunity for West Australian artistic development – the young performance team and all areas of the production behind-the-scenes. And the other outcome? Inspiring a love of the arts in the next generation.

Peter and the Wolf  is on at 11am from October 7-11.

Pictured top: Sara Ouwendyk as Grandma with Emma-Rose Barrowclough as Peter with Mayume Noguromi as the Bird watching on. Photo: Scott Dennis.

Junior review by Bethany Stopher (13)

Peter and the Wolf, performed by West Australian Ballet, is a free event as part of the AWESOME Festival. Not only does this event add culture to the city, it also is an amazing experience for all ages. Peter and the Wolf is cleverly designed to be suitable for young children. Full length, traditional ballets are sometimes hard for young ones to focus on and they can get fidgety and bored. Peter and the Wolf has aspects that mean even a toddler can keep up with the story line.

Firstly, the characters are beautifully depicted. As Peter, Sara Ouwendyk is courageous and valiant, skipping and jumping merrily around the stage. Mayume Noguromi, as the Bird, is adorned in a pretty, feathered plume and tutu, and flitters about, full of personality. I especially admired her, as out of the dancers her spirit, expression and technique was most commendable.

Dancing the role of the Cat, Kirsty Clarke is also amazing, practically screaming the smugness of the animal she’s portraying. Playing Peter’s grandma, Asja Petrovski appears very little, and although she acted well she wasn’t given much choreography. I have seen Asja perform as Clara before, so I think her talent is wasted just hobbling around.

Emma-Rose Barrowclough is excellent as the Duck, making the children shriek with laughter as she paddled around on a little blue mat. Kassidy Thompson and Sarah Ross appear only briefly as the Hunters, but play their parts well, very brisk and foreboding.

Finally, Nathan Claridge, as the Wolf, is a truly sinister character, with a million-dollar snarl that could rival an actual wolf. His jumps are amazing. At the performance I saw the little boy in front of me screamed “Wolf!” to warn the characters every time he got too close. The Wolf was my little brother’s favourite character, even though he hid in my dad’s shoulder.

Providing a voice-over of the story helps engage the audience, especially younger viewers. Although the portable stage is small, the company makes the most of it, adding a raised top level to resemble a tree. The scenery is well-used and effective, though simple. When the unfortunate incident occurred between Wolf and Duck feathers blew across the stage, which made us chuckle, although we were sorry for the duck!

Another interesting element is that the different characters in the story are represented by different musical instruments, as is usually the case for this story.  For example, the flute for the bird, the oboe for the duck. The narrator explains this to the audience when the characters are introduced.

The choreography is fun and playful, the dancers frequently turning cartwheels. The choreography showcases the different characters.

Throughout the show there is audience interaction. When the audience cries out to the performers, the dancers acknowledge them by gesture. At the show I saw I think this made the younger children feel as if they were part of the story. Sometimes the performers prompted the audience to clap, when someone was executing a challenging sequence. At the end of the show all the littlies were called up to the front of the stage, where they were given a mini dance class. I feel like this really added to the experience.

Peter and the Wolf  is a touching, enjoyable piece that considers the needs of younger viewers. This free event is a great opportunity to open up the world of ballet to a new audience, but experienced viewers will also appreciate this wonderful performance. If you have spare time on your hands definitely head to the Perth Cultural Centre, where the AWESOME Festival is being held. I absolutely recommend Peter and the Wolf to everybody!

Please follow and like us:
Children, Circus, Dance, Festivals, News, Physical theatre, Reviews

A little long but important viewing

Junior AWESOME Review: DADAA and CircusWA, Experience Collider ⋅
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, October 4 ⋅
Reviews by Gabriel (10) and Sascha Bott (8)⋅

Experience Collider is a show about two different groups of people having experiences that they wouldn’t have normally. For example, a man who couldn’t walk was up on a rope while a circus performer was down on a patient lift.

It was produced by DADAA and CircusWA and included performers such as Hugo Favelle, Caleb Barret, Evan Gallant-Harvey, Samuel Freeman and Richer Mortensen.

Something I liked about the show was how it was split up into sections. The first section was called Hold, the second was called Boss Together, the third was called Aerial Entanglement, and the fourth was called Train Collider.  Each section focused on a different idea and physical skill.

Second, I think the show overall was a bit long, and some of the things could have been cut out. For example, at one point in the show, there were people being dragged around on crash mats by dancers, and I didn’t understand why.

Lastly, the costumes were really good, I liked the back of the costume of the circus performers, which had a line down the middle. The costume was basically smock-looking overalls.

– Gabriel Bott (Aged 10)

 

Today I watched Experience Collider at the State Theatre Centre. It was a show made by DADAA and CircusWA. In the show there were people with disabilities (some in wheelchairs) and young circus performers. They performed different circus skills like hula-hoops, silks and tumbling.

I liked the section called Train Collider because a man with a disability got to go on a rope in the air, and I was really impressed by what he could do.

I think I would have changed how long it was because it was too long.

I also liked how they let people with disabilities have a turn of controlling the music. Some of them even got to sing.

I liked the show and I think more people should watch it.

– Sascha Bott (Aged 8)

Pictured: Cast of ‘Experience Collider’.  Photo: Rachael Barrett

Read our senior review of Experience Collider by Robert Housley.

Please follow and like us:
Children, Circus, Dance, News, Physical theatre, Reviews

Blueprint for the future

AWESOME Review: DADAA and CircusWA, Experience Collider ⋅
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, October 4 ⋅
Review by Robert Housley ⋅

Experience is fundamental to our passage through life. It is how life manifests itself and how we interact with the world.

When significant boundaries inhibit the physical and psychological experience of existence, finding ways to enrich it are even more critical to a life well lived.

The 28 young people in this Awesome 2019 show – half with high-needs disabilities, half from the CircusWA Youth Troupe – embrace the joy of collaboration that has doubtless enriched the lives of all involved.

At the heart of this Sam Fox-directed performance is the desire to create a world of equality which, he suggests, could be “a blueprint for the future.”

Inclusiveness and equality go hand in hand, just as hold, the first of several themed components of the performance, proved.

The simple intimacy and symbolism of holding hands permeated the opening scenes, which had the entire cast and a fair number of the support crew intermingling on stage together. When an aerialist suspended about seat-height from the ground wrapped her arm around an electric wheelchair-bound performer and he literally took them for spin, the night was off to a brilliant start.

Electric wheelchairs abounded as did a range of circus props including aerial apparatus, landing mats and hula hoops.

Movement of all kinds – from dance to gymnastics – was integral, as was a sense of fun.

A film crew kept popping up and occasional shorts were projected onto two large screens either side of stage.

Between the screens was a large-scale revolving door-like entryway, which provided tactile curtaining and featured strongly in the most heart-warming of the short films.

The heart strings were pulled to breaking point in the joyful pas de deux between Mohammed Waheedy and Lila Campbell. Waheedy climbed unaided from his wheelchair on to a long mat, where circus performer Campbell waited, and together they choreographically rolled around for the sheer pleasure of it.

Onstage composer/musician Roly Skender provided beautiful atmospherics, enhanced with periods of live acoustic guitar.

Music for teenagers was most aptly celebrated near the end of the show with a full run of Perth band Tame Impala’s hit song “Let it Happen”.

Fox and the team of professional collaborators involved in the 18-month show development certainly did everything their power to guide this remarkable event and let the experiences happen for everyone.

Pictured top (left to right): Leila, Maddie, Hugo and Arlo   Photo: Peter Cheng.

Read reviews of ‘Experience Collider’ by Junior Critics Gabriel and Sascha Bott (age 10 and 8).

Please follow and like us:
Alexa Tuzil as Giselle and Juan Carlos Osma as Albrecht in Giselle (2019) (2). Photo by Sergey Pevnev
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Sparkling duo leads the way

Review: West Australian Ballet, Giselle ·
His Majesty’s Theatre, 14 September ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

When it comes to ballet, Giselle is my guilty pleasure.

First performed in 1841, the ballet’s plot is not one you’ll find in “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls”. In a pre-industrial German village, peasant girl Giselle has fallen for Albrecht. He’s actually a duke, but in order to win Giselle, he has disguised himself as a villager. Oh yeah, and he’s also engaged to someone else. When Giselle discovers that she has been two-timed by her so-called fiancé, she “loses her reason” and dies of a broken heart.

And so to Act II, in which Giselle has become one of the Wilis, the ghosts of women who have been betrayed by their lovers. When the vengeful Wilis encounter Albrecht they try to dance him to death – because powerful women must, of course, be evil. But Giselle’s love protects Albrecht until dawn, when the Wilis must return to wherever it is they go during daylight hours.

Of course, this story is risible when read from a feminist perspective but I confess I agree with West Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella when he describes the ballet as “one of the most beautiful Romantic ballets of all time.” The contrast between the sweet innocence of Act I and the chilling spectre that is Act II, with the famous “mad scene” at its temporal and emotional centre, never fails to entice me.

Following in the footsteps of Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot (to whom the 1841 choreography is attributed), WAB’s 2019 season does not disappoint.

Alexa Tuzil as Giselle and Juan Carlos Osma as Albrecht in Giselle (2019) (3). Photo by Sergey Pevnev
A sparkling chemistry: Alexa Tuzil as Giselle and Juan Carlos Osma as Albrecht. Photo: Sergey Pevnev.

On Saturday night, Alexa Tuzil, as Giselle, and Juan Carlos Osma, as Albrecht, won the audience over from the outset. With her large eyes and beguiling expression, Tuzil’s Giselle seems heart-breakingly young and innocent in Act I. Osma’s Albrecht approaches Giselle with the awkward enthusiasm of adolescence. His interpretation humanises Albrecht’s deception – he’s not cruel, just young, impulsive… and making a huge mistake. The pair have a sparkling chemistry and technically they’re lovely to watch, whetting our appetite for what’s to come.

Concluding Act I, Giselle’s “mad scene” is renowned as a test of the mettle of any dancer playing the lead role, and Tuzil passes it with aplomb as she oscillates between teary recollection and wild-eyed disbelief.

Keigo Muto and Mayume Noguromi dancing the Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle (2019). Photo by Sergey Pevnev
Keigo Muto and Mayume Noguromi dancing the Peasant Pas de Deux. Photo: Sergey Pevnev.

Also noteworthy in this act were Candice Adea and Julio Blanes, whose deftly performed Peasant Pas de Deux drew appreciative murmurs in the dress circle on Saturday, in spite of almost being upstaged by a couple of delightful dogs. As the love-lorn Hilarion, Christian Luck kept us wavering between pity and scorn. And the corps de ballet performed with exuberance, the womens’ crisp entrechat series and the men’s exciting tours en lair two highlights.

Though this production is not new to Perth – it was first performed in 2014 – I was struck anew by the almost subterranean gloom of the forest as the curtain rose on Act II. Lit by Jon Buswell, Peter Cazalet’s forest is framed by ragged leaves, its floor awash with mist; otherworldly and gorgeously dark.

Glenda Garcia Gomez as Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis in Giselle (2019) (3). Photo by Sergey Pevnev
Glenda Garcia Gomez dances Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis with steely technique. Photo: Sergey Pevnev.
Alexa Tuzil as Giselle and Juan Carlos Osma as Albrecht in Giselle (2019). Photo by Sergey Pevnev
An assured partner: Juan Carlos Osma lifting Alexa Tuzil. Photo by Sergey Pevnev.

Here we encounter the Wilis. Again, the dancers of the corps are to be commended; wild yet strangely formal, they’re a maelstrom of ghostly white. As Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, Glenda Garcia Gomez didn’t quite reach the ice-queen heights of some renditions I’ve seen, but she was appropriately stern with steely technique to match. Lead wilis Mayume Noguromi and Dayana Hardy Acuña followed suit, topped with port de bras so airy it teetered on insouciance.

But the act belonged to Tuzil and Osma. Her sublime developpes, promenades and penches were deftly supported by him, at times with just one hand. Osma may play Albrecht as a youngster but he is a mature and assured partner. Meanwhile Tuzil, still a member of the corps de ballet, gave a performance that belied her youth, emotionally charged and technically assured. Both individually and as a pair, the two are outstanding in their roles.

The season is expertly accompanied by West Australian Symphony Orchestra who capture the piquancy and poignancy of Adolphe Adam’s score under the baton of Jessica Gethin. Though probably unintentional, the introduction of the charismatic Gethin – a passionate advocate for addressing the gender imbalance amongst classical music leaders – as a WAB collaborator offset my feminist concerns somewhat.

Choreographers Aurelien Scannella and Sandy Delasalle are to be congratulated on this production. Whether you’re a Giselle aficionado or a newbie to this ballet, WAB’s latest offering is well worth the ticket price.

Giselle runs until September 28.

Pictured top: Alexa Tuzil as Giselle and Juan Carlos Osma as Albrecht, in Act II. Photo: Sergey Pevnev.

Please follow and like us: