Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Andrew Kylian - Lana Jones
Photo: Branco Gaica
Australian Ballet - Canberra Theatre May 23 – 25

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

With nary a tutu in sight, the Australia Ballet still managed to dazzle as it stormed triumphantly  back into the Canberra Theatre with a superb program including the world premiere of a stunning new ballet celebrating Canberra’s parliament house, performed in the presence of its designer, Aldo Giurgola.

Balanchine’s “The Four Temperaments”, danced to the music of Paul Hindemith, is a plotless abstract ballet about perfection. The dancers, dressed in simple black and white leotards perform intricate variations against a clear blue backdrop. It’s exposing, with no room for error and little opportunity for emotion. The dancers were up to the challenge, dancing with absolute precision in a brilliant display of sheer technique.

The exquisite pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s “After The Rain” is also about perfection, but dripping with emotion, and the audience held its collective breath as Lana Jones and Adam Bull appeared to float through its intricacies to the gentle strains of Arvo Part’s “Spiegel im Spiegel”.

These two odes to perfection proved appropriate preludes to the main offering, “Monument” commissioned as a Centenary of Canberra project to celebrate the perfection of Canberra’s iconic parliamentary building.


Daniel Gaudiello, Vivienne Wong, Jake Mangakahia, Ella Havelka
Photo: Branco Gaica

With a driving electronic score by Huey Benjamin providing the heartbeat, choreographer Garry Stewart has integrated elements of hip-hop, popping and classical ballet technique to create a busy, enthralling ballet which brilliantly and remarkably captures the essence and excitement of the building.

The dancers, in crisp white figure hugging costumes, move briskly around the stage in squares, rectangles, triangles and circles defined by Jon Buswell’s lighting, performing combinations of stabbing, angular arm and body movements.  Behind them 3D animations of the actual architectural drawings give the impression that the dancers are moving in an out of the building as it awakens and comes to life.  Eventually a couple, Lana Jones and Andrew Killian, emerge from the ensemble to perform a long pas de deux which draws this remarkable ballet to a contemplative conclusion with both standing silhouetted on the empty stage.

Regardless of your familiarity with Parliament House, “Monument” is a remarkable achievement destined to heighten interest in the object of its inspiration wherever it is performed.
                (An edited version of this review appears in CITY NEWS - May 29th edition)