State Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne – until 2 September 2017
A return visit to Symphony in C provided the welcome opportunity to enjoy Resident Guest Artist David Hallberg on stage in Melbourne. A Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, Hallberg was also the first American dancer to reach this exalted rank with Bolshoi Ballet. Hallberg’s relationship with The Australian Ballet stems from the year he spent in Australia recuperating from a 2014 ankle injury under the supervision and support of The Australian Ballet’s medical team.
Last year, Sydney audiences saw Hallberg return to the stage in Coppelia. The first dancer to join The Australian Ballet as a resident guest artist, Hallberg also graced the stage in Brisbane this year in The Sleeping Beauty. This season of Symphony in C marks Hallberg’s Melbourne debut.
The somewhat eclectic mixed program features a juxtaposition of modern and classical dance in five short works, followed by the feature attraction of Symphony in C after interval.
Dancing the First Movement of Symphony in C with The Australian Ballet principal artist Leanne Stojmenov, Hallberg demonstrates the nimble strength and effortless masculine elegance that have made him a star. His soft blonde hair lightly rising as he pirouettes, Hallberg has a charismatic poise that naturally draws the eye to him. The perfect ensemble member, Hallberg performs the intricate technical work of Symphony in C with deft precision, immersing his contribution into the overall stage picture without a trace of any sense of the ostentatious aura of a star.
In the first half of the program, the two pieces by current company members remain fascinating modern works. It is a testament to the extraordinary flexibility of Amanda McGuigan that the fluid beauty of her sensuously slow opening moves can surpass the impact of the stunning opening image of the enormous ruffled train of her red dress in From Silence by Richard House.
Coryphée Callum Linnane proves an excellent match for principal artists Stojmenov and Kevin Jackson in Alice Topp’s Little Atlas, more than holding his own in terms of steely focus, lithe physical strength and imperturbable confidence.
Rina Nemoto is a superb fit for the exoticism of the pas de trois from Imaginary Masque, expertly partnered by Joseph Chapman and Cristiano Martino.
A senior artist who surely draws ever closer to the rank of principal artist, Brett Chynoweth again demonstrates his natural propensity for leading roles in Grand Pas Classique. Chynoweth’s magnetic presence and characterful expression conjur a world of interest over and above the exquisite technical precision of his dancing. Beautifully partnered by soloist Jade Wood, who is an ideal and attractive match for Chynoweth in terms of stature and colouring, the pair brings the sequence to life with wonderful solo work and create images of splendid symmetry together.
The Diana and Actéon pas de deux is still the ultimate crowd pleaser of the evening, Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo embrace the chance to perform a dazzling series of showstopping moves. The pleasure the audience experiences watching these sweethearts of the stage is enhanced by the palpable enjoyment the pair derives in dancing with each other.