Vanguard

Every year The Australian Ballet features a triple bill of shorter ballet works in its repertoire and this year they present ‘Vanguard‘ – three contemporary works from ballet’s game-changers George Balanchine, Jiri Kylián and Wayne McGregor.

I always enjoy the triple bills because they give me a chance to dip into works from different choreographers and they showcase the ballet company’s ability to switch between different styles and techniques.

My favourite piece was the first presentation of Balachine’s The Four Temperaments. Its classical form is exactly the kind of abstract ballet that I like – clean and pure lines, complete focus on the precision of the dancers (and not on costumes and sets) and with a little bit of humour sprinkled in.

The second work was Bella Figura (1995) by Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, most famously of Nederlands Dance Theatre. The dark set and Baroque soundtrack gave the ballet a tone reminiscent the deep fires of hell, in sharp contrast to the white ‘heavenly’ brightness of the Balachine. The choreography was dynamic and discomforting in an interesting and provocative way, with little absurd touches to develop a creative tension that made me feel slightly anxious. There was also partial nudity in the piece which, whether you like it or not, can make you feel a little squirmy. RM said he didn’t know where to look….

The last piece by British choreographer Wayne McGregor was my least favourite. The constant, almost manic, movements felt relentless to the point of tediousness and I felt that it lacked the light and shade needed to let the audience breathe and absorb what was going on. However, the dancing on the work by the company was almost faultless so I have to distinguish between disliking the work and liking the actual performance of the work.

While I didn’t enjoy everything I saw the beauty of a triple bill is that you don’t have to like it all – in 45 minutes you’ll be watching something else. And when I eavesdropped on some audience reactions it seemed that other people had the opposite reaction to me – hated the robotic Balachine and loved the push and drive of the McGregor.

Whichever way you fall, Vanguard is a masterful display of The Australian Ballet‘s talents. And even better for one night only at the 6:30pm performance on Friday 14 June you can set your own ticket price to see it at the Arts Centre Melbourne! Pay What You Can Ballet means exactly that – just pay whatever you like for your ticket (though there is a $10 minimum). Tickets are available ONLY by phone on 1300 369 741 or in person at both The Australian Ballet Box Office and Arts Centre Melbourne Box Office. Tickets are selling fast and here’s a little taste of what you’ll experience.

 VanguardThe Australian Ballet, State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

6–17 June 2013
Bookings australianballet.com.au | 1300 369 741