And so, for the 2019 production of Bespoke , where the Queensland Ballet corp gets in touch with its wild adventurous side and lets their hair down (literally).
It is best to go to this production with gratitude and an open mind; gratitude that Queensland Ballet sports such a young talented group of dancers who avidly embrace the opportunity to explore the far reaches of innovative contemporary dance. And an open mind is a must in order to be receptive to new and ground breaking directions in modern choreography.
Three brand new works were premiered last night at the Brisbane Powerhouse; a venue which is perfect for this kind of edgy innovative art form. Daring and acclaimed choreographers Loughlan Prior, Lucy Guerin, and Amy Hollingsworth danced on the knife edge between breaking the rules and retaining the aesthetics of traditional dance in order to explore the range of expressions of human emotion.
Combine this with equally talented artists in animated digital technology, virtual reality, costume and music and you have a heady mix which leaves you in no doubt you are observing the frontiers of artistic and technological modernity.
The first piece, The Appearance of Colour, choreographed by Loughlan Prior and taking influence from music composer John Metcaffe was inspired from the first transmission of colour television in the 1970s. The digital lighting technology was a standout in this piece of work (as it was in the other two pieces) and compensated for times when the dance form became perhaps a bit too loose for this reviewer.
The second piece, PointNONpoint choreographed by Lucy Guerin is structured as a crescendo of dance starting with a single dancer and being joined in increments by the rest of the community of dancers. Deliberately amorphous, the dancers interconnect and separate, grow in energy and fall in death throes only to reemerge in a frenzy of expressive dance accompanied by even more haunting expressive sound accompaniments. The intriguing costumes were suggestive of incremental metamorphosis, which together with moments of frenzied activity on stage, to this reviewer suggested the life of insects. My companion reviewer, who unashamedly prefers contemporary to classical ballet, said the dance choreography was delightful and reminded her of moths growing, developing, attracted to light and flapping across the stage.
The third piece was both our favourite, From Within, choreographed by Amy Hollingsworth. Described by Amy as a work which "embraces everything from heart bursting joy to the darker anxieties of life and the whole palette that lies in between", we could reliably assume that it would be an emotionally expressive piece without following any particular storyline.
As an immersive piece, it was sensationally successful. Sound, light, and athletic bodies on stage all danced together in tightly choreographed synchronicity. It was fascinating, joyful, dramatic and skillfully danced.
It was a clever decision to provide these innovative works, which allow the ballet corps to have the freedom to develop their creativity and emotional expression and, in turn, strengthens and shapes them as dancers for more classical repertoire.
If you dare, take a walk on the wild side to New Farm, indulge in a glass of crisp chardonnay or whatever drink takes your fancy at the Powerhouse bar, and join the Queensland Ballet in exploring cutting edge repertoire. At the end of the night, you may feel somewhat discombobulated but you will definitely be entertained.