The Australian Ballet: Kunstkammer – Traditional Melbourne

Kunstkamer opens the door to a world of curiosity and marvel.  It’s ravishing in its uncooked feelings, architectural design and pure physicality of motion and choreography – a satisfying meal that provides its viewers a lot to digest.

Kunstkamer is a up to date ballet initially composed for the 60th anniversary celebration of the Nederlands Dans Theater, which premiered the work in October 2019.  After 12 performances the corporate cancelled its plans to tour the piece because of the pandemic.  Luckily, the Australian Ballet already had a contract in place to supply and carry out the piece, including to the glamour of our opening evening.

It’s troublesome to think about 4 world-class artists coming collectively and contributing so seamlessly to at least one piece with its fluid continuity of motion and design.  Sol León and Paul Lightfoot of Nederlands Dans Theater collaborate with Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite and German choreographer and Affiliate Choreographer of NDT Marco Goecke.  Pite embraces the darker narratives of life whereas Goeke’s work has a clock-like precision in its motion model.

The ballet’s program boasts an eclectic gathering of music from Beethoven to Janis Joplin and from Benjamin Britten to Arvo Pärt.  Kunstkamer loosely means “a room filled with artwork”.  Think about arranging probably the most opulent particular person jewels you could find, inserting them in a kaleidoscope and shaking the sphere each 10 seconds to find a brand new form glistening in swimming pools of sunshine.  Sound and light-weight present an intricate framework for the patterns and designs embodied by the dancers who shift and glide, shifting as one.  Our bodies are used like architectural beams, supporting a grand edifice.

The set design consists of flooring to ceiling moveable partitions with a number of doorways that resemble a combination of Bauhaus-like simplicity combined with some Victorian particulars painted black.  The design is operatic in its construction, fashionable and environment friendly.  Between the lighting, costumes and design the backdrop is kind of stark giving the dancers’ our bodies full consideration.  Sadly, the costume design doesn’t at all times distinction sufficient with the black backdrop making it troublesome to see the dancers’ legs at instances.  Maybe a small quibble for an in any other case profitable conjoining of components.  Humor, drama, emotion, great thing about line and choral singing collide in a set of museum items.

There have been many memorable moments together with the Janis Joplin track Ball and Chain wherein a duet expresses Joplin’s soulful voice personified.  The dance is complemented by a set of dancers vibrating like strings on a guitar in the course of the track’s ending riff. Large group items with 48 dancers on stage shifting to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 had been breathtaking of their musicality and type.  Smaller and extra intimate dances had been woven in between group items together with a fantastically danced break-out duet by Corps de Ballet members Samara Merrick and Elijah Trevitt.  Merrick devoured her choreography with such ardour and velocity it was troublesome to think about that the steps weren’t created particularly for her in probably the most natural of how.  The duet was a fleeting second however made an enduring impression.

The expertise of the entire dancers got here in untraditional types together with a big assortment of dancers singing choral music.  The motion vocabulary was broad and barely held the fluidity of ballet for very lengthy.  A lot of the choreography was extra of “pop and lock” – exploding one remoted physique half (pop) whereas contracting and tightening different physique elements in sure positions (lock) all at an excessive tempo.  Corps de Ballet member Timothy Coleman shone together with his interpretation of this highly effective model in a collection of solos in Act 2, leading to an animalistic starvation craving to be totally realized in its primitive state.  One other poignant scene concerned Corps de Ballet member Lilla Harvey, who was featured as a soloist all through the ballet.  She was deftly maneuvered by way of the air and on the wall of the set by fellow artists Callum Linnane (Principal), Jorge Nozal (Visitor Artist) and Lucien Xu (newly promoted Soloist) to a hauntingly stunning piano rating by Olafur Arnalds.  Harvey and Linnane shared an intricate duet highlighting a few of Kunstkamer’s extra emotionally shifting explorations.

After which there was David Hallberg’s particular efficiency on opening evening.  He’s a world-class artist who generously shared the stage together with his firm.  From his opening solo the viewers was gifted together with his unending strains, fluidity of limb and dedication to character.  One second he commanded the stage with swanlike grace and the subsequent second he morphed right into a self-deprecating character resembling Dracula’s devoted servant Renfield.  Alongside together with his solos Hallberg shared a number of duets with visitor artist Jorge Nozal.  The 2 had a particular connection as Nozal acted as an alter ego to Hallberg’s struggling character.  Hallberg should absolutely encourage his younger dancers to larger heights.  The AB is forging into new realms of artistry and pushing boundaries alongside the way in which.

Kunstkamer is worthy of a thesis with its immense artwork, thoughtfulness, collaborations of design, music, intricate choreography and gifted dancers.  However higher than studying about Kunstkamer and all its deceptively hidden treasures is to see it in individual.  Not solely as a result of we’re so fortunate to take action, but additionally as a result of it’s attractive in all its fascinations.  It offers you one thing to relish for an extended whereas.

Photograph provided.


Paris Wages reviewed “Kunstkammer”, carried out by The Australian Ballet at Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre on June 3, 2022.