West Australian Ballet’s fabulous ‘Gala’ brings the magic

West Australian Ballet – Gala | His Majesty’s Theatre | Until 11th Dec | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

An annual Gala is a new event on the West Australian Ballet’s annual program. A showcase of their most acclaimed works, a selection of dance pieces that give the audience a taste of their many different flavours, if it was a compilation CD it would be called NOW That’s What I Call Ballet!

As a young boy I used to anticipate the company’s trips to regional Western Australia, on their sojourns to the North West they used to put on shows in our small town hall that were just like this, a little bit of everything, something for everybody. After the performance we used to stand at the stage door and wait for stars like Maggie Lorraine and Ronnie Van den Bergh to come out and sign autographs.

This new collection of works performed by the company, alongside a few pieces city audiences may not have seen before, highlights how far our state’s ballet company has come over the decades, and especially in the last few years under Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella.

The night’s festivities opened with an except from Takuto which was performed a few years ago during the annual Ballet at the Quarry season. Relocated from the cavernous outdoor performance space to the intimacy of His Majesty’s Theatre the work took on a more powerful and foreboding feel as the dancers shouted, danced and loudly beat drums in unison.

Principal dancer Matthew Lehmann leads this powerful piece from choreographer Eric Gauthier.

We immediately switched to a very traditional work Le Corsaire pas de deux which on opening night featured Mayume Noguromi and Juan Carlos Osma which was flawless. This piece was part of the company’s 2019 regional tour and is being performed for city audiences for the first time.

Mathew Edwardson took on the solo work Ballet 101 which is also from choreographer Gauthier, a great juxtaposition that shows the variety in his work. The comical piece was performed by Andre Santos during the company’s 2017 Quarry season and here Mathew Edwardson nailed the hilarious and technically impressive work.

Banging and shaking their tambourines Kymberleigh Krzysztofiak-Cowley, Jesse Holes, Carina Roberts and Julio Blanes delivered the energetic Tarantella. Previously this work was performed by a single couple, but here it takes on new complexity with two pairs of dancers performing the work.

The first half ended with a return to the world of The Great Gatsby with Chihiro Nomura and Matthew Lehmann performing one of the romantic pas de deux from the acclaimed ballet.

The second half featured excerpts from Radiohead and Juliet which was fantastic and then Beatrice Mander and Brent Carson performed a section of CoVid Lab that was created earlier this year during the pandemic lockdown. Brent Carson’s performance was captivating, he caught our attention with his performance during the Genesis season and once again is a stand out performer.

After a second dose of The Great Gatsby, there was a stunningly beautiful piece Architecture of Hope which saw the dancers performing with candles. This work was performed during the 2020 Quarry season but here audiences got another chance to see it. The costumes in various shades of red, dark lighting, and intricate choreography made a perfect combination.

Les Indomptés is a work performed by two male dancers that requires them to be in perfect synchronicity. Physically and mentally demanding the piece was previously performed by the company in 2018. Here Ludovico Di Ubaldo and Adam Alzaim impressed the audience with their exceptional performance.

The final piece returned us to traditional ballet as Cadice Adea and Oscar Valdés performed the Don Quixote pas de deux. While their performance was perfect, a showcase of leaps, pirouettes, and grand jettes – it would have been wonderful to have a final work that brought the whole company on stage, or at least a curtain call for all the performers. After a night of amazing performances, the final moments fell flat, leaving the audience slightly stunned when the house lights came up.

If you’re after a beautiful night of dance, one that keeps you on your toes with regular changes in pace and style, then head along to Gala. It’s a fabulous celebration of our state Ballet Company and their recent achievements.

Tickets to Gala are on sale now. 

Graeme Watson

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