WA Ballet’s ‘Takuto’ quarry season is magnificent

Matthew Lehman and Dancers of West Australian Ballet in Takuto by Eric Gauthier - Photo by Sergey Pevnev

West Australian Ballet | Takuto: Ballet at the Quarry | Until Saturday Feb 25th | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

The West Australian Ballet have launched their 2017 season with a spectacular performance that showcases a range of different styles of contemporary ballet while showing off the dancer’s many varied talents.

The show opens with a complex work from choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa who turned the the fast and slow world of airports for the inspiration for In Transit.

Capturing a microcosm where some people are racing a breakneck speed and others are seeing time pass at its slowest, the choreography created a diverse range of movement and patterns, at times it was reminiscent of a kaleidoscope being shaken as the patterns and movements suddenly changed.

The performance spaced was lined with benches that cleverly became a moving set of different structures.

Reika Sato in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's In Transit - Photo by Sergey Pevnev (3)

The Clearest Light was the second work presented. Created by the company’s own demi-soloist Christopher Hill, the piece was a mesmerising journey filled with emotion, foreboding music and an incredible sense of style.

Hill not only created the exquisite movement for the piece, not being short on talent, he also made the music and had a hand in the costume design too.

The piece started with a romantic duet between two dancers, set to a luscious soundscape, but it unexpectedly moved into an intriguingly darker space filled with strange glitchy sounds, shadow filled staging and tightly controlled movement.

There was something arthropodic about the way the dancer’s moved, it was captivating. The soundtrack was thumping, primal and it was all very succulent.  Chris Donnelly’s lighting design was especially noteworthy and created a powerful atmosphere.

The third item was a change of pace, and filled with great humour. Ballet 101,choreographed by Eric Gauthier, began with a voice over welcoming soloist Andre Santos to the stage to demonstrate the different positions and movements that make up ballet.

This was the perfect role for Santos, whose captivating personality has seen him become a much loved performer with local audiences.

Responding the voice over he took the audience on a journey through first position to fifth position, sending anyone who studied ballet on a moment of nostalgia.

But then he moved on to six, seventh, eighth and ninth position, something none of us remembered from dance classes. Tenth, eleventh, and twelfth the voice over continued, the positions getting more and more unexpected. It was great to see a light-hearted and hilariously funny piece among the presentation.

The final piece, also created by the acclaimed Canadian choreographer Gauthier, was Tukuto. Here Japanese elements were at the fore, where the company not only presented powerful dance moves, but also taking on the role of complex drumming.

The various drums in the piece moved around the stage, the booming sound of the drums echoing against the rock walls of the quarry amphitheatre. It’s the first time Gauthier has allowed a company other than his own to perform the work, and the spectacular setting of the venue must have been an factor in drawing him in.

Out in the open, with picnics, drinks and a program that was filled with a variety of dance styles, brilliant lighting and a good does of humour, this was a great start to the WA Ballet’s 2017 season.

Tickets are available via the West Australian Ballet’s website.

Graeme Watson  

Top image: Takuto by Eric Gauthier, second image: Reika Sato in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s In Transit – Photo by Sergey Pevnev 

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