PERTH FESTIVAL REVIEW: “In-Synch” shows a new side to Ballet
For 2019, The West Australian Ballet is back with a string of performances at the superb setting of the City Beach The Quarry Amphitheatre. Following 2017’s The Clearest Light and last year’s Milky Way, the WA Ballet are presenting 4 short works that combine contemporary dance with aspects of modern ballet in order to form a social commentary on themes such as power within relationships and the notions of death.
In-Synch, this year’s offering, opened with a rather frightening piece in the name of X-it that used large projection screens in order to drive the fear of constant surveillance in the 21st century. Harrowing images of Fremantle Prison were a nice touch, giving the dancers a challenge to synchronise their selves to the short film, while also obviously playing into the title. All dancers were exceptional, making sure the videos nor intimidatingly scary music outshined them. However what did unfortunately take centre stage was the decision to open with such a subjective and isolating piece that exhibited only the extremely modern side of dance.
In-Synch is a celebration of dancers in not just the local community, but also gives a unique opportunity in presenting international talent. Chihiro Nomura from Japan; principal dancer Matthew Lehmann from Melbourne and Oscar Valdes from Cuba, formed the second piece, The Sofa, a much lighter and shorter act that handled the theme of a ménage a trois in a very tongue and cheek way. Coupling romantically traditional ballet with heart-thumping gymnastics created an endearing and enchanting piece. The most exciting and arguably most enjoyable of the four, the only criticism was that it was not longer.
The theme of in-sync was incredibly challenged in the third act, the name-sake piece, In-Synch. Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella and Principal Ballet Mistress and Artistic Associate Sandy Delasalle pushed their dancers to the limit with a one-of-a-kind improvisation piece. Earlier on in the night, the audience were told to text in out of four options with which song they would prefer to see the performers improve to. The results are then hidden only until 5 minutes before the performance, highlighting the creativity and skill of the large group. The results were astonishingly impressive, providing exceptional fluidity throughout the piece that dispels any thoughts of something last minute. Well dance improviser David Mack had been brought in to work with the dancers, with his distinct mark clearly seen within them.
Ending with a bang, the fourth and final act made the most emphasis on fusing classical with contemporary in the aptly-titled Reincarnation. Choreographer Gary Stewart played into the missing element of more traditional ballet that the former acts were missing. The notions of life and death were heavily played into, while still keeping the piece light and fresh. However, the piece did seem quite disconnected from the theme by introducing too many new narratives so late in the evening. However, the collaboration between one of Australia’s most exciting, new dance companies, Co3 Australia, ensured the partnership between the former and the WA Ballet displayed an authentic fluidity that maintained the freshness of the night.
The location of City Beach in itself is a sensational and must-see event of 2019 Perth Festival. In-Synch is not for the most casual of dance-watchers however. The themes and turning points are rather subjective and can be hard to understand, while also be rather confronting. But the sheer rawness in the talent of the dancers is second to none, with a world class performance promised with whatever night you attend. Come for the view, stay for the inspiration.
4/5 Pointed Toes
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