Australian Ballet Symmetries, May 29
Jake Mangakahia, Laura Tong, Brett Chynoweth, Ingrid Gow and Ella Havelka. Photo: Lyn Mills
Aldo Giurgola is in his 90s, still works every day and was all smiles at the after party of opening night of the Australian Ballet’s Symmetries program.
This is where Garry Stewart’s Monument premiered and paid a unique tribute to Giurgola’s beautiful building, Parliament House.
Just like Canberra’s landmark, which was built and designed to last for 200 years, this ballet will last as long and we’ll be able to say in our dotage how proud we were to be there for this opening night to marvel at the marriage of classical architecture and classical dance.
The music by former local lad Huey Benjamin - who’s very proud to say he dropped out of Canberra Grammar School to pursue a musical career that by any measure is extraordinary and closely linked to the world of dance - took a very different perspective to create architectural music.
Working with choreographer Garry Stewart and Giugola there were palpitations from the powers that be that this new ballet could have dancers twirling on their heads to electronic music with body slamming to boot. However, the reality was a minimalist aesthetic, 3D imaging of the original CAD designs and the architecture of dance accentuated by the evolving form of this monumental modern building screened behind. It is a tribute to this city for its centenary from a formidable collaboration.
The Symmetries season was balanced and innovative with George Balanchine’s 1946 ballet The Four Temperaments classy as the ballerinas in ‘‘best black’’ leotards with a French roll and diamonds in their ears at times reminded me of those Esther Williams’s aqua-musicals of that era.
It is fitting for this era in its contemporary ballet form with the exquisite pas de deux from After the Rain mesmerising in its simplicity, with complexity of movement made to look simple but evoking many emotions.
We all felt uplifted and proud after this opening with no mention of who owns it, how often it will drift back to town or why a ballet was commissioned at all. But as a centenary present it is precious and perfect.