Review – Qld Ballet’s The Masters Series: elegance, quirky fun and poignant drama
Above: Soldiers Mass. Below right soloist Georgia Swan in Serenade
The Masters Series
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Season: May 17-25. Duration: two hours 15 minutes including two intervals. Bookings: www.qpac.com.au or phone 136346. Production reviewed on May19.
Rarely do I get to a matinee performance of anything but I saw this show on a Sunday afternoon in packed theatre with an audience that enjoyed every second of entertainment from a company that danced with the enthusiasm and verve of an opening night. The dedicated Artistic Director Li Cunxin was also in the audience cheering them on
The Masters Series is a program of three short ballets in three contrasting styles and all were danced perfectly by a company with obviously tremendous depth.
There was elegance, quirky fun and poignant drama; precision corps work, exciting solos and pas de deux.
The opening piece was Serenade, choreographed by George Balanchine and danced to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C major and what a gloriously elegant work it was, with close to 30 dancers showing their prowess in flowing diaphanous costumes from the Australian Ballet stock. The matinee crowd was not starved of top talent either for we enjoyed performances from Principal Dancers Yanela Piñera, Lucy Green, Camilo Ramos and Victor Estévez and soloists Lina Kim, Mia Heathcote and Alexander Idaszac.
Balanchine created this piece as a tribute to the ballerina’s craft with clever little insights and tributes to the heroines of Giselle, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. And it truly did show off the talents of the company with beautiful precision and coordinated teamwork and some amazing, toe crunching point work.
It was a delight to see.
Trey McIntyre’s The Shadows Behind Us was something completely different with six pop songs sung by Jimmy Scott and danced by six pairs of dancers. I don’t know Jimmy Scott, but the choreographer describes is as having a genetic disorder that left him “with a high vocal range and small stature”.
His sound was particularly haunting as his medley of songs – I Wish I Knew, This Love of Mine, Sometimes I feel Like a Motherless Child. Unchained Melody, Our Day Will Come and Exodus – covered a gamut of musical romance from happy love, flirtatious love, sadness and hopelessness. Each piece was danced with flair and the choreography matched rthe mood of each song perfectly.
It was certainly something different, but it was highly entertaining.
The final ballet was Soldier’s Mass from Jiri Kylián.
This powerful piece was created for a dozen male dancers and, backed by an operatic requiem mass, is a strong anti-war statement as we watched the men from early days of training to embarkation and finally the battlefield and its mayhem and murder.
The choreography was fast and furious and called for fine teamwork from the twelve dancers. With many lifts and rolls and close movements, the choreography was obviously challenging and muscle-stretching but the men made it look simple like a much practiced army training manoeuvre.
The matching of mood to music was exceptional and the atmosphere emotionally sterong.
It was a fine but sombre ending to a terrific afternoon of dance.
Below: The Shadows Behind us with Jack Lister and Yanela Piñera.