Instruments of Dance (The Australian Ballet): reviewed by Alex First

September 28, 2022 by Alex First
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The second line of Peter Allen’s iconic anthem, I Still Call Australia Home, contains the words “From New York to Rio and old London Town”.

Photo: Jeff Busby

It then goes on to say, “I still call Australia home”.

Only Rio doesn’t feature in The Australia Ballet’s three-parter Instruments of Dance.

The triple bill has the works of resident choreographers from three of the world’s foremost companies, overlaying the scores of contemporary composers.

Justin Peck is from New York City Ballet.

He makes his Australian debut with Everywhere We Go – a 40-minute, nine-part ballet for 25 dancers, with memorable nautical costuming and some jaunty music.

With lifts, leaps and runs, it is energetic and fun, with dramatic flourishes.

The Royal Ballet Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear sees nine men circle and clash after we are first introduced to but two.

Opening the program, it is a cerebral half-hour work, where movement becomes more vigorous. At one point, it includes intense twirling.

Semi-naked torsos intersect, confront and collide – eight in derivatives of black costuming and one in red.

They play out the dynamics of conflict and challenge, loyalty and rejection.

Alice Topp is the resident choreographer for The Australian Ballet.

She has worked with a commissioned score from Australian composer Bryony Marks to create Annealing, which looks at the concept of strength.

A cavalcade of striking gold costumes for more than 30 artistes is particularly praiseworthy in this 30 minuter.

A number of performers literally roll onto and off the focused viewing area.

Lighting plays an important role.

Instruments of Dance is a showcase of ingenuity and creativity.

Agility, athleticism and emotion abound as the mood shifts throughout.

I look at it as a fusion of ballet and modern dance – something to spread the reach and appeal of the fine work of The Australian Ballet.

From gentle string work to stirring instrumentation, the musical accompaniment is unforgettable.

Instruments of Dance is playing at State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, until 1st October.

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