October 2012

Arts & Letters

The Best of Australian Dance 2012

By Deborah Jones

Glen Tetley’s Gemini was made for the Australian Ballet nearly 40 years ago. It looked like the future then, and still does. Revived in August to celebrate the Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary, Gemini was inspired by the vastness of the Australian continent, astutely represented by Nadine Baylis’ set design. Rows of slender slats in shimmering colours evoked a mirage-like landscape that stretched to vanishing point.

Within this lustrous space two women and two men embarked on a series of solos, duos and quartets to the bracing sounds of Hans Werner Henze’s Third Symphony. Tetley requires fiendishly difficult feats of the dancers, who must appear radiantly unaware of those challenges while exuding a deep sensuality that makes Gemini rather less abstract than it seems at first glance.

Indeed it was hard to keep a cool intellectual distance from a work in which, wearing second-skin garments of the palest gold, dancers wrapped themselves around each other so there was scarcely a cigarette paper between them – as close to protected sex as you’re likely to see on stage. Gemini’s first cast – Lana Jones, Adam Bull, Amber Scott and Rudy Hawkes – was exemplary. The women in particular were astonishing: Jones with unflagging, steel-willed command and Scott offering luscious creaminess.

Gemini was the centrepiece of a program tagged ‘Icons’, featuring two short narrative ballets that have been important to the Australian Ballet: Robert Helpmann’s The Display and Graeme Murphy’s Beyond Twelve. The Display was more historically interesting than persuasively performed and Beyond Twelve was touching and engaging but is a minor work. Nevertheless, together they asked the audience to see a company in context and in forward motion – a valuable task.

Also worthy of note in the past 12 months was Gideon Obarzanek’s Assembly, which potently combined the forces of a large choir with dancers from Melbourne’s Chunky Move. Independent choreographer Martin del Amo (who should be much more widely known) gave dancer Paul White yet another platform to display his prodigious gifts with the difficult but rewarding Anatomy of an Afternoon.

One of the most entertaining new works seen in an age was Fanatic, made by Larissa McGowan for the Sydney Opera House’s Spring Dance festival. It was witty, smart and danced with kick-arse joy by a trio from Sydney Dance Company.

Finally, a nod to West Australian Ballet and Queensland Ballet, both of which have new artistic directors next year. The directors inherit sharp, versatile ensembles who this year looked splendid in, respectively, John Cranko’s Jeu de Cartes and Nils Christe’s Diner Dansant.

Deborah Jones
Deborah Jones is the former arts critic for the Australian.

'Gemini', The Australian Ballet, 2012. © Jeff Busby
Cover: October 2012

October 2012

From the front page

Gladslide?

The Coalition’s win in NSW was hardly emphatic

The right reverts to form after Christchurch

Insisting that both sides are to blame does nothing to arrest far-right extremism

Image of ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

Making the private public: ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

This new history traces how the decade’s redefined politics shaped modern Australia

Image from ‘Destroyer’

Hell hath no fury: Karyn Kusama’s ‘Destroyer’

Nicole Kidman confronts in this LA crime thriller


In This Issue

'Lore' by Cate Shortland (director)

'Silent House', Orhan Pamuk, Hamish Hamilton; $29.99

'Silent House' by Orhan Pamuk

'Questions of Travel', Michelle de Kretser,
Allen and Unwin; $39.99

'Questions of Travel' by Michelle de Kretser

'Montebello', Robert Drewe, Hamish Hamilton; $29.99

'Montebello' by Robert Drewe


More in Arts & Letters

Image of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, 2010

Rats, heroes and Kevin Rudd’s ‘The PM Years’

This memoir answers some questions about his deposal and return but raises others

Image of Gerald Murnane

Tracking time: Gerald Murnane’s ‘A Season on Earth’

Forty years on, the author’s second novel is reunited with its lost half

Image of Matmos

Clicks, plinks, hoots and thuds: Matmos’s ‘Plastic Anniversary’

The American experimental duo embrace the ‘sounds’ of a ubiquitous material

A French Western? Jacques Audiard on ‘The Sisters Brothers’

The celebrated director explains how he made a Hollywood staple his own


More in The Best of Australian Art 2012

The Best of Australian Arts 2012

Patrick White at Cambridge in the early 1930s. National Library of Australia

The Best of Australian Literature 2012

'Hail', Amiel Courtin-Wilson, 2011. Image supplied.

The Best of Australian Film 2012

Plain tobacco packaging, Australian Government, 2012. Image supplied.

The Best of Australian Design 2012


Read on

The right reverts to form after Christchurch

Insisting that both sides are to blame does nothing to arrest far-right extremism

Image of ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

Making the private public: ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

This new history traces how the decade’s redefined politics shaped modern Australia

Image from ‘Destroyer’

Hell hath no fury: Karyn Kusama’s ‘Destroyer’

Nicole Kidman confronts in this LA crime thriller

Image from Hobart’s school strike for climate

The kids are alright

Climate-striking students have every right to protest


×
×