Melbourne Ballet Company
Bruce Mason Centre
Thursday 20th August
Founded in 2007, Melbourne Ballet Company is a relatively young company, specialising in contemporary ballet. Their New Zealand season of Infinite Space is a programme of four contemporary ballets, concluding with the work from which the show draws its title.
The company has eight dancers, all with beautiful technicality and the impressive extension so often favoured by American dance companies. Alexander Bayden Bryce danced the male lead in the majority of the works; his strength and sensitive partnering were both skilful and very enjoyable to watch. As this is the first Melbourne Ballet Company performance I’ve attended, I would’ve found specific casting for each of the works very helpful, rather than the list of dancers on the back of the programme in no discernible order.
The evening opens with Lucidity, a work in four movements, created by Choreographer and Tour Artistic Director Simon Hoy, and featuring a duo by Tim Podesta. The four movements are: Limpidity, Pellucidity, Clarity and Lucidity. The dancers are costumed simply in black leotards and tights (women), and black dance shorts and tops (men). In place of ballet shoes are black socks, which allow the dancers to achieve some well-controlled sliding across the floor. The choreography of Lucidity is dense and fascinating – detailed movement motifs, enhanced by geometric lighting and evolving facings. A moving projected backdrop connects clearly with the themes of the passage of time and space, and the movement it creates on the dancers and the stage is interesting. I’m not sure it entirely enhanced the work, which was completely beautiful without the distraction of the projection, but that’s probably down to personal taste. I particularly enjoyed the way this work found its own completion through the repetition of placement, choreography, and lighting, in the opening and closing moments of the work.
Phrased Without Words is the second short work on offer in the Infinite Space programme. After some technical difficulties, Arvo Part’s beautiful composition Spiegel im Spiegel (mirror in mirror) accompanies a choreography for one male and two female dancers. The music is enigmatic and moving, but I thought the necessary composure was disrupted too much for the full impact of the work to be felt. Choreographically and technically, Phrased Without Words is a lovely piece.
Divenire, also choreographed by Simon Hoy, provides an interesting change of pace to the preceding works. The cast move with precision and grace, and display some beautiful elevation - particularly Kirsty Denovan, who has an impressive leap for such a petite dancer. Occasionally, some ensemble members seemed less confident with the material than others, but overall it was an effective work.
Melbourne Ballet Company’s title and signature work, Infinite Space, concludes the evening’s programme. The costumes are simple and chic – sheer, low-back dresses over unitards for women, and floaty trousers and shirts for the men. The natural palette was flattering and sophisticated, and serves the movement quality well. Infinite Space is set to Mozart’s Clarinet concerto in A Major and the 27th Piano Concerto. An elegant and fitting finale for a programme of abstract contemporary ballets, the piece drew vigorous applause from the audience.
Melbourne Ballet Company’s first impression was memorable, both for the technicality of the dancers, and the subtle artistry of the choreographies. I look forward to seeing more of their work in the future.