It’s all about one hour of inspiring entertainment, provided by a star-studded line-up of artists chosen from the diverse genres in the world of performance arts.
On Tuesday May 21 I enjoyed, En Pointe: the annual performance for the senior students of the Australian Ballet School, a national centre for dance excellence and it certainly lived up to its gold reputation for guiding the next generation of students as they traverse the ‘yellow brick road’ on their way to becoming principals of the ballet, a dream come true.
The Australian Ballet School in 2019, celebrates 55 years of excellence in classical dance training and education … and I have to say I was there at the beginning, which certainly dates me!
Sixteen year old Maidie Widmer was one of the accomplished students dancing, and members of her family were on hand to support her, as she performed splendidly in two of the four works on offer.
What a wonderful hour of entertainment it turned out to be. Dedicated to the memory of the truly wondrous Dame Margaret Scott AC DBE, founding Director of the Australian Ballet School, the presentations provided a glimpse of the discipline required, the diversity of dance forms and the styles students learn during their training period.
Empowering the ‘ballet dancers of tomorrow’ to aim high and to reach a pinnacle of achievement towards the end of their training period at the Australian Ballet School, is the role of its current director, Lisa Pavane, whom I had the pleasure of seeing perform many times during her own ‘on stage’ illustrious dancing career.
Today she has taken on a great and different responsibility, which must provide on the whole great satisfaction at the end of the day.
It takes eight years to train a young dancer, and they face so many hurdles along the way they must not only conquer, but also overcome, if they are to have a fruitful career in their chosen profession.
Having a director who knows what their threshold of pain is really all about, must be of enormous advantage.
Vibrant, vivacious and danced with truly delightful ‘attitude’, the first work showcased perky princesses provoking pleasure-loving princes, who retaliated in great style.
Heart Strings, brought the group together to display the many different dynamics, which occur when you bring people of different backgrounds and experiences together.
They are at any one time at different stages of their life and career development. Establishing their identity first is paramount, as are the relationships they must enter into with their peers, if they are to succeed.
It was witty and quite wonderful. The suite of short dances was performed to a stunning selection of contemporary String Quartet music by American composer and musician Marc Mellits (b.1966).
Ballo Barocco, the second work was all about showcasing the young dancer’s mastery of technique and musicality.
For this acclaimed Australian choreographer Stephen Baynes ‘returned to the music of eighteenth century composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750),’ who often broke the rules and produced music of robust directness and magnificent pathos, as did our dancers here with their high octane presentation.
By now they were warming up, settling in on stage and coming together in pairs, and trios and quartets, to dazzle us all with their virtuosity.
Farruca, the third offering on the program, certainly set my feet tapping.
This is a traditional Flamenco form of dance, performed brilliantly and with fire by all those involved; dancing and stomping gloriously to a stunning guitar arrangement and playing by Werner Neumann. Ole!
This work showcased both the girls and the boys equally, which is setting tradition aside as Flamenco used to be only performed by men.
However, this rendition revealed the girls can certainly show off their technical foot movements, just as well as the boys, whether slow and sensual or rapidly rhythmical. There is no doubting the appeal of Spanish dance!
Raymonda Grand Pas was the final theme. This was a restaging of a segment of a famous ballet work after the great choreographer Marius Petipa (1818-1910) by Lisa Pavane whom I remember seeing dance Raymonda, as well as the legendary principals, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev.
Fonteyn and Nureyev were integral to the success of the early years of the Australian Ballet and they performed this work in London with the company on December 14, 1965, in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth, HRH The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon, the first time the newly founded national ballet danced in front of royalty.
So, the school students may or may not have known, they had a lot to live up to here and they really didn’t put a foot wrong.
The Principals, Belle Urwin and Jett Ramsay were very impressive.
The Solo Girl Mathilda Ballantyne sparkled, while the Pas de Trois danced by Ines Hargreaves, Grace Heinnen and Leisel Rose, delighted.
The Pas de Quatre with Adam Elmes, Benjamin Garrett, Shu Igarashi and Lachlan Moir showcased faultless footwork and fine form from the four young men, while the members of the Corps de Ballet performed with great elan!
The Hamer Hall was packed with people who gave the Australian Ballet School students resounding and well-deserved applause.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2019