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Flash Review 2, 2-27: Glacial Ballet
Calm & Collected in Australia

By Simone Clifford
Copyright 2001 Simone Clifford

MELBOURNE -- The calmness of the Australian Ballet's trilogy program Saturday at the State Theatre offered unto us so soft a palette of expressive color that it rendered the emotional memories and the reflective spirit of the works weak.

The Trilogy Two program differed significantly from the program promised in the company's Contemporary Season subscription brochure. Stephen Baynes's "Personal Best" and Harald Lander's "Etudes" were replaced by Baynes's "Beyond Bach" and George Balanchine's "Theme and Variations." The one work that remained from the originally planned program was Jerome Robbins's "Other Dances."

Throughout the entire evening we were besieged with delicate footwork, graceful arms, arabesques and sensitive partnering, beautiful costumes, set and lighting, and orchestra. However, each work's understated, discreet and elegant delivery rising from a similarity of purpose and effect meant that the evening unfolded its wings upon us in a manner not effective dramatically.

That is not to say that each work on its own does not hold merit, for I believe they do; referencing when and for whom a dance was created affects our ultimate determinations of the work. It is interesting to note that "Other Dances" was choreographed in 1975 for Makarova and Baryshnikov. We can imagine how these two dancers would have enjoyed the stroll through technique, passive drama and role-playing. However, the landscape of this piece might possibly have been served better if it had been surrounded by work that surrendered greater difference in rhythm and emotional output. Perhaps this could be said for each of the works on the trilogy program, for difference highlights and separates one work from the other.

Indeed this evening was akin to a gentle stroll in a land of passive beauty, the restrained delivery of these works meaning that the stage exuded a glacial quality of refrained emotion and controlled expression. Emotional substance was present in the work. But while the type of cool delivery the company chose is relevant and has its place, it was so formal and even aloof, that the evening lacked warmth.

Generally speaking, the company looks healthy and at ease with the work. On a special and individual note, I would like to offer that Simone Goldsmith, due to her flawless technique, exquisite musicality, line and individuality while still in the rank of soloist promises a ballerina in waiting. I look forward to seeing more of her work and to seeing her dance the bigger roles and become the principal she deserves to be.


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