Friday, November 20, 2009

"Dancextravaganza - Tea and Symphony" - Canberra Symphony Orchestra - Canberra theatre - 14th November

For the second year in a row the Canberra Symphony Orchestra has combined with the Australian Ballet to stage a delightfully innovative afternoon of music and dance.
Almost crackling with enthusiasm, Nicholas Milton lead the Canberra Symphony through an excellent selection of well known ballet music. Excerpts from Tchaikovsky's three ballets, "The Nutcracker", "Swan Lake" and "The Sleeping Beauty" together with Johann Strauss' "On the Beautiful Blue Danube", "Voices of Spring" and "Csardas" were given sparkling performances. Josef Strauss' "Ohne Sorgen" and Nicolai's "The Merry Wives of Windsor" rounded out a very satisfying program.

But it was the dancers from the Australian Ballet, which had attracted the packed house. Valerie Tereshchenko, Brooke Lockett, Kismet Bourne, Eloise Fryer and Sharni Spencer, decked out in Hugh Colemans' lovely costumes from the Australian Ballets' 1985 production of "The Sleeping Beauty", made their first appearances towards the end of the first half of the program.

Each presented one of the fairies solos from Act 1 of "The Sleeping Beauty", and each solo was preceded by a lengthy, if informative, introduction by ballet master, Mark Kay.

Though beautifully danced, some of these solos were remarkably brief, certainly much shorter than the introductions, leaving the audience somewhat bemused. In response to applause,each of the solos was then repeated(?).

At the end of the second half of the program, four of the dancers together with Jia Yin Du presented the 2nd Act Florestan from "The Sleeping Beauty" - again beautifully danced but teasingly brief, which also had to be repeated by the dancers.

Finally the dancers were joined by as many little girls from the audience as Nicholas Milton could coax on stage. Their efforts to mimic the movements of the obliging Australian Ballet dancers were briefly amusing, and may have been adorable to their parents, but the idea quickly descended into tedium,leaving one regretting the time wasted, and longing to see more from the real dancers who had travelled to Canberra for the occasion.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra has hit upon a real winner with this innovative concept, and I for one can hardly wait for next year. But more children on stage unless they are trained performers, ask the dancers to bring enough repertoire with them to make their journey worthwhile, ask Nicholas to restrain his desire to perform rather than conduct, and definitely continue with the yummy scones and coffee.

Bill Stephens

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