Freelance writer – creative – media-maker
It is a tough call to ask a young ballet company to improve with each season. But Melbourne Ballet Company proves it is possible, with their latest project, Infinite Space.
As usual, the company presented a programme of four short works: three pieces by resident choreographer Simon Hoy, including an extended remount of the titular work, and one by regular guest choreographer, Robert Kelly.The opening piece, Hoy’s On Air, which explores “the delicate balance we seek in life, and the complementary qualities of male and female”, is a work of utter simplicity. Dressed in elegant gold tunics and aided by minimal but effective lighting, On Air maintains a strong choreographic emphasis. Filled with lunges, flowing lines and well-timed gestures, it was beautiful to watch, and the dancers handled the choreography well despite a slightly messy start. The premise of the piece provided perhaps more food for thought than its relatively old-fashioned treatment by Hoy, but On Air is nonetheless a thoroughly enjoyable creation
Robert Kelly’s Virtuoso, set to J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerti, treated the importance of title, status and achievement. Far more stylised than any of Hoy’s pieces, Virtuoso featured two seductive trios of dancers set in opposition to each other through a dramatic red and black colour scheme. The rapid-fire abstract choreography of this piece had real potential to engage Bach’s music in an intelligent dialogue, but required more attack from the dancers; at times, they seemed slightly uncomfortable with the more complex transitions required in Kelly’s piece.
Hoy’s Between Dark and Daylight presented us with a contemporary vision of the grief felt by Swan Lake’s Princess Odette. Whilst the piece lacked the particularly magical quality of the classic, it successfully utilised contemporary gestures to emphasise the Swan princess’s sadness and anguish, and managed to find its own voice choreographically. But the highlight of the evening was the remount of Infinite Space, a celebration of the driving forces of hope, doubt and belief. The dancers, having performed the work a number of times now, seemed well-rehearsed, and again, the unaffected simplicity and lyricism of the piece was uplifting.
Overall, the programme was much stronger than in previous seasons. One of the joys of seeing multiple seasons of the Melbourne Ballet Company has also been to watch the younger dancers grow in confidence and artistry. The company is growing a strong core of performers, and this can only improve in coming seasons. Hoy too is improving; his only danger is settling into a pattern of predictability on the back of his instinctive approach to choreography.
The signs are positive for the Melbourne Ballet Company; with seasons that are gaining in strength and acclaim, the company is ready to take on a more daring approach to contemporary ballet.
Melbourne Ballet Company, Project Seven — Infinite Space, June 10-13, 7.30pm, Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran. For more information, visit www.melbourneballetcompany.com.au