Posts tagged Stravinsky
Britten and Baroque

Recently landed: Britten and Baroque, Gracia's written response for Fjord Review

For Matisse, who ‘carved’ into colour, blue was the sound of a gong. For Kandinsky, blue was instead evoked by the sound of the cello, which he played. For the poet Arthur Rimbaud, blue was the vowel ‘O’, and it was a “sublime Trumpet full of strange piercing sounds.” Arranged in a line, Rimbaud’s Vowels (1871), from ‘A’ to ‘O’ in colour read: black, white, red, blue, green. On Sunday night, Sydney Dance Company became a body of sound to the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s sounding body. For one night only in Melbourne, a soundscape became a landscape! And blue was a viola’s arabesque.

Building upon an earlier collaboration, which stemmed from a shared love of the melodic dance work of Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, the artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti, and the artistic director of Sydney Dance Company, Rafael Bonachela, have created Illuminated. Three ballets, one from an earlier full-length work re-worked, Project Rameau (which premiered in 2012), and two new pieces inspired by the changing colours and directness of composer Benjamin Britten. Before taking Illuminated to Hong Kong, and further adding to the unexpected glow of a gala performance, neither Project Rameau (in either full or reworked guise) nor the two works which enable Britten’s sound to be ‘seen’ have been performed in Melbourne before. The intrinsic relationship between music and dance, making one where there are two, is in line with Stravinsky and Balanchine, Cage and Cunningham. “If the word and the note are one thing, not two,”—the same can be said of Illuminated’s splendid fare.

Juliette Barton and Richard Cilli in Les Illuminations (Image credit: Peter Greig)

Perpetual Motion

Recently landed: Perpetual Motion, Gracia's written response for Fjord Review

Perpetual motion, states the first and second laws of thermodynamics, is believed impossible to produce, yet I unwittingly found it nesting within 20:21, the Australian Ballet’s recent triple bill. The continuous motion within George Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Tim Harbour’s new work Filigree and Shadow (2015) and Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room (1986) circumvents such laws. Physicists, I’ll hear no more about it; you’ve been looking in the wrong places. There is a device that can make motion unstoppable and it can be found at the core of these three ballets.

Propelled by Igor Stravinsky’s score, continuous energy courses through Symphony in Three Movements as the dancers, explained Balanchine, “try to catch the music and do not, I hope, lean on it, using it instead for support and time frame.” Energy flexes its feet, and with outstretched arms, it flexes its hands too. Sometimes with palms visible and other times with fingers tipped upward as if emulating an aeroplane. Off-centred or with legs turned inward, it proudly alters the lines of the classical body. In choreography that is as transparent with its complexity-of-step and precision-required as it is bold, the feeling conveyed to me was one of an endless force. Though the curtain to my view came down and the dancers changed, somewhere, in some alternate world, it continued, unimpeded and unfading, a conversation between Balanchine and Stravinsky, between harp and piano, a great sweaty, unfailing machine. If you listen closely, you can hear the swish of a dancer’s long ponytail as it comes unstuck from her dampened brow.

The Australian Ballet's Andrew Killian and Vivienne Wong in Filigree and Shadow (Image credit: Jeff Busby)