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Latest WA Ballet offering puts classic moves on the backburner

The world premiere of In-Synch presented by the West Australian Ballet is a celebration of dance under the stars in the stunning surrounds of the Quarry Ampitheatre.

The production is a four-act dance study that explores the theme between technology and art while searching for elements of humanity therein.

The first act is X-It, conceived and choreographed by Johanna Nuutinen, and a strong opener for the production with its mesmerising screen footage filmed on site at the old Fremantle Prison. The multimedia panorama illuminates the stage and seamlessly synchronises the shifting dance movements built on power balances within human relationships, all against an enigmatic backdrop of visual effects. The audience wonders whether the dancers are performing live or not, as the innovative three-dimensional choreography shifts from surreal to real and stirs emotions such as paranoia, while the audience searches for the meaning of living under constant surveillance. Themes of dystopia aren’t new in entertainment, although X-It brilliantly redesigns such ideas about the advances of modern technology and its effects on humanity through powerful, original contemporary dance.

Human movement is fluid, graceful and elegant as well as sporadic, disjointed and unpredictable, so why not include all of these on stage when the opportunity presents itself?

The Sofa is up next, an international work by choreographer Itzik Galili, which is simultaneously comedic, cheeky, sophisticated and seductive. The story of a quirky modern-day love triangle is well-received amongst a diverse audience, with the movement exploring connection, lust and rejection, all performed enigmatically by three talented dancers on a larger than life sofa.

In-Synch is devised by Aurelien Scanella and Sandy Delasalle, with the key focus of improvised dance set to a bespoke orchestral soundtrack. Before the performance begins, a screen reveals four soundtracks of which we are invited to choose our favourite and vote for. The winning selection becomes the score that the performers will present their improvised dance to, with only a few minutes’ notice from selection announcement.

Former West Australian Ballet dancer and now provocateur, David Mack, will creates a fresh framework of movement each night. Our orchestral score, which peaked the votes, was Venetian Memoir, resulting in a random, eclectic blend of abstract contemporary movements with hyperbolic facial expressions and hand gestures. The movements are at once staccato and jittery, then fluid and graceful, seeing the company run the gamut of dance. Well, almost.

The last dance act, Reincarnation, is a unique collaboration with one of Australia’s freshest contemporary dance companies, Co3, who join West Australian Ballet under the choreography of Garry Stewart. The costumes are emblazoned with red and gold hues, reminiscent of the Orient as they swirl flags and swords to communicate the ironic position of death, rebirth and transformation. The score is somewhat trance-like as its rhythmic soundscape bathes the rich ensemble of soldiers that resemble human playing cards under the command of a white Ice Queen and toyed with by a mythological looking creature. In essence, it is difficult not to observe the likeness to Alice in Wonderland meets Mao’s Last Dancer.

With all its abstract iconography and contemporary choreography, both which have become flagship styles of the West Australian Ballet, there feels a void of classical aesthetic and movement. A few classic moves would give the overall four-act show more balance and would help satisfy some of the more traditional folk in the audience. After all, human movement is fluid, graceful and elegant as well as sporadic, disjointed and unpredictable, so why not include all of these on stage when the opportunity presents itself? ★★★★

Annette McCubbin

 

The West Australian Ballet’s ‘In-Synch: Ballet At The Quarry’ is on until March 2, 2019 as part of Perth Festival.

Ticket prices range from $62 to $85, and tickets can be purchased at www.waballet.com.au.

Check website for times.