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Review: Queensland Ballet at Home at the Talbot Theatre

Review by Gemma Keliher


True to its no-frills name, Queensland Ballet at Home is our cities local variant of the production that is touring the state as Queensland Ballet on Tour. Appropriately located at the home of Queensland Ballet, the Thomas Dixon Centre, Queensland Ballet at Home provides us with a tasting board of classic and contemporary ballet, comprising of four varying pieces and excerpts that celebrate dance and music. The Talbot Theatre provides an intimate setting for Queensland Ballet performances staged here, with the dancers in such close proximity we can appreciate the smallest detail on costumes, movement, and expression. 


 This intimacy suits the opening piece of the evening, Three Preludes, choreographed by Ben Stevenson OBE, as a love story unfolds on stage. Across three movements we see two ballet dancers fall in love, expressed through their mutual love for ballet. Beginning only with the two dancers and a barre on stage, supported by a single piano in the recorded music, we see their story develop from their initial flickering of affection and longing, into a passionate romance blooming fully by the end of the piece. Laura Tosar and Joel Woellner as the lovestruck couple performed with beautiful chemistry, showcasing some strong technicality as partners with ease in their lifts. The simplicity of staging stripped any distraction away from the emotion of the choreography, and I enjoyed the creative use of the barre as a part of the initial story. 


Act I’s second piece brought us Matthew Lawrence’s Tchaikovsky Mash, blending some well-known Tchaikovsky music with some less traditional choreography. While this piece seemed a crowd pleaser, I found it wasn’t as much my cup of tea as the rest of the program. The varying influences left me confused as to the emotional story through the piece. I enjoyed the traditional touches in costume alongside the modern twists in choreography and staging but found it feeling less polished with less synchronicity and ease, though I think any ensemble piece would be a challenge following Three Preludes. Libby-Rose Niederer and Liam Geck supported by Kaho Kato, Sophie Zoricic, Brooke Ray, Vanessa Morelli, Lewis Formby, Rian Thompson, Joshua Ostermann, Ari Thompson, and Dylan Lackey formed an entertaining and lively group. I quite appreciated watching some of the company dancers in more prominent roles that I’d previously seen, watching their personal flair come to play in the choreography. 


Welcoming us into Act II was Marius Petipa’s Le Corsaire pas de deux – my personal favourite of the evening. I hoped I wasn’t biased by the program’s description of “swash-buckling pirates and exotic landscapes”, but even without that context I think the pax de deux speaks for itself. Chiara Gonzalez and Joel Woellner were another great partnership that demonstrated excellent skill and great ease throughout choreography that was anything but easy. Their energy was high, and it was engaging from start to finish. 


Greg Horsman’s 2nd and 3rd movements from A Rhapsody in Motion wrapped up the night, bringing a burst of bold colour with varying shades of red from Zoe Griffiths costumes. Consisting of the largest ensemble of the four pieces, it was a beautiful selection to end with some lovely moments throughout the choreography that showcased each dancer. Soloists Laura Tosar, Patricio Revé, Georgia Swan, Edison Manuel, Ines Hargreaves, D’Acry Brazier, Bronte Kielly-Coleman, Luke DiMattina all performed beautifully but I was particularly captivated by Hargreaves and Brazier. A Rhapsody in Motion was evocative, danced with passion, and was certainly a true celebration of the relationship between music and dance. 


The night’s program certainly seemed tailored to regional touring, with nothing quite as experimental as what you might catch in a Bespoke season, but still capturing the blend of classic and contemporary that Queensland Ballet does so well. It can be easy to take for granted the array of performances we have access to; those of us with regional town roots knowing the limited access to touring productions - if something even toured at all. In this instance the program seems a safe bet for some potentially new audiences to enjoy a welcome night at the ballet, and a taste of the talent we are lucky to keep locally. Queensland Ballet at Home is exactly what it promises to deliver, a solid production of ballet highlights that showcase the company’s artistry and give us an enjoyable night at the ballet – at home. 


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